Did you know that National Women’s Day has its origins right here in our hometown? On 9 August 1956 about 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings with one goal: A petition to do away with the pass laws during the Apartheid era.
Led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams the march made some uproar in the country with 14 000 petitions left at the office doors of prime minister, J.G. Strijdom. After standing silently for 30 minutes, the women sang a song specially composed for the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! It means: Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock and from it came the saying now often used to represent women’s strength and courage in South Africa: You strike a woman, you strike a rock.
In the spirit of Women’s Month and in celebration of what women has done for South Africa over the years and also in celebration of what is yet to come considering women’s influence in the country, we’ve gone on a quest to find statues of women in Pretoria and its surrounds:
Situated at the Lillian Ngoyi Square in Pretoria, this monument tells the story of the four women who led 20 000 women in a peaceful protest against carrying a pass book and the degradation of African women.
This collection of 100 life-size bronze figures is located at Maropeng, just an hour’s drive away into the Cradle of Humankind. The bronze statues include influential women from as early as the 1700s. Here you will be able to literally rub shoulders with the likes of socialist writer, Olive Schreiner, the first woman to give testimony before the British House of Commons, Harriette Colenso,
leader of the 1956 Women’s March, Lillian Ngoyi, singer and activist, Miriam Makeba and more.
Angus Taylor’s Little Mama Africa stands seven metres tall at the Atteridgeville soccer stadium – a statue that was commissioned for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Except for the fact that this statue resembles a natural body shape and not the model-type figures idealized by so many, it also symbolises the youth as our future with a girl holding out a gift.
At the foot of the Voortrekker Monument stands a bronze sculpture of a Voortrekker woman and her children – a sculpture by Anton van Wouw. It pays homage to the strength and courage of the Voortrekker women.
These monuments are all reminders of how strong women really are – especially when they are driven by a certain passion or purpose. Why not take a tour of these monuments and get to know these women’s stories – it might just be the inspiration you were looking for!
Image Credit: Justin Lee