Every August in South Africa we celebrate women’s month. A time when women are celebrated for their contribution to society. Both in the past and in the present. Which is why on the 9th of August every year we have a public holiday. This is because in 1956 on the same day, women marched against the legislation that required Africans to carry “dom passes”. These were passes that restricted black South Africans the freedom of movement in the apartheid era.
Which is why on August 9th 1956, 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest for amendments to the act. During the march the women left petitions containing more than 100,000 signatures at prime minister at the time, J.G. Strijdom’s, office door. The women, who consisted of South African woman of every race and age sang a protest song that was composed in honor of the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! When translated it means “you touch a women, you have struck a rock”.
In the 60 years since, the phrase has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa. And in 2006 a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary. Which many of the 1956 march veterans attended. Which is why the month of August is now dedicated to women.