We can build hope on the strength of our women

Sunday World - - Opinion -

EVEN in the face of the ru­n­away cru­elty that so­ci­ety re­lent­lessly un­leashes on women and chil­dren de­fil­ing moth­er­hood and tram­pling to dust the in­no­cence of child­hood rav­aged by the heart­less­ness of men on a mur­der and rape spree there is still rea­son to de­velop hope that some day san­ity will pre­vail to put the ma­raud­ing mad­ness be­hind us.

The rea­son for hope lies with the Women s Month of Au­gust. South Africa has sin­gled out the ninth as the day on which all that is vir­tu­ous in women, and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of this na­tion s deep­est re­spect for moth­er­hood, be held in high es­teem. This day is meant to in­ject into na­tional con­scious­ness the crown­ing courage and power that 20 000 women showed on Au­gust 9 1956, the day they marched on the Union Build­ings against the dis­crim­i­na­tory pass laws.

By then op­pres­sive laws had cut deep into the souls of black folks to shape liv­ing con­di­tions that com­pli­ant black men had sadly suc­cumbed to. Steve Biko’s de­scrip­tion of their con­form­ity was un­spar­ingly frank: All in all the black man has be­come a shell, a shadow of a man, com­pletely de­feated, drown­ing in his own mis­ery, a slave, an ox bear- ing the yoke of op­pres­sion with sheep­ish timid­ity.”

Buoyed by the win­ning for­mula of its de­hu­man­is­ing im­pact on black men, the op­pres­sive state de­cided to visit the same wicked plans upon women. The women were no ready ma­te­rial to re­spond with ex­pected timid­ity.

Their re­sponse was un­mis­tak­ably de­fi­ant: Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.” The song they sang was the defin­ing mo­ment of their courage. They did so with some of them having their chil­dren on their backs. Such courage and strength had not been seen be­fore.

Those were women of sub­stance who did not look over their shoul­ders to seek ap­proval from men on whether to take a stand.

Even then, they were of the cal­i­bre that loved their hus­bands, de­fended their chil­dren and fought for free­dom.

There are no greater givers of life than women fighters set to give birth to free­dom. That is what moth­ers are for. Women courage de­serves the trib­ute grant­ing them Au­gust 9 as their day.

Our flicker of hope, in th­ese try­ing times, lies with women to rekin­dle a na­tional sense of hope as the givers of life and de­fend­ers of chil­dren as pre­cious re­cip­i­ents of this gift of life.

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