You come with sticks, you come with stones
and odious words we can’t condone.

You laugh at us and call us weak,
yet we still rise to turn the cheek.

Our silence like a torrent falls
and thunders through your doddery walls.

You turn your back, you walk away,
deaf the ears to what we say.

Our fists and voices we do lock.
You strike the women, you strike the rock.

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Today Lillian, our host at dVerse, asks us to write a poem to celebrate 9 August (which is National Hand Holding Day, National Rice Pudding Day, National Book Lovers Day, National Polka Day and International Day of the World’s Indigenous People).

Here in South Africa, 9 August is a very important day.  It is WOMEN’S DAY.  It is not just a day to celebrate the women in our lives, it is a day to remember the part that women played in bringing democracy to this land.  It celebrates women of the past and challenges women in the present to stand up for what is right.

Here’s a brief description of the history of the day:

On 9 August 1956, more than 20,000 South African women of all ethnicities staged a march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, in protest against the proposed amendments to the “pass laws.”  (The “pass laws” required South Africans defined as “black” to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanisation and manage migrant labour during the apartheid era.) The march was led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams.  The women left 14,000 petitions at the office doors of prime minister
J G Strijdom. The women stood silently for 30 minutes and then started singing a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.).  In the years since, the phrase has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.

9 Aug 1956

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