When you Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock!

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Writings

When you Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock!

Sixty years ago, 20 000 brave South African women marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest the pass laws. The pass laws insisted that all black South African men under the country’s Population Registration Act had to carry these ‘passports’ when outside their designated areas. Up to this point, black women had been excluded from carrying the ‘dompas’ (literally dumb pass), but the change in this law is what triggered this protest march.

Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!

(When you strike a woman, You strike a rock!)

Was the song that the women chanted after standing in silence for thirty minutes and leaving bundles of 100 000 signatures in the doorways for the then Prime Minister.

(He apparently never saw the petition, he was away and the papers were very quickly removed before he could see them).

Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!

(When you strike a woman, You strike a rock!)

These words, first chanted in 1956, have come to symbolise women’s resilience and courage in South Africa.

This march and these words made a big impression on me when I first heard about them as a girl and these words often float through my mind when attending a labour and birth and seeing a woman ‘s strength and resilience surface.

Women will put up with a lot in life. See them go without, for their families, for their children,  for their husbands. But push a woman too far and she will push back with a previously unseen inner strength .

There is that point in labour; when a woman has reached that place where she seems to give in and the act of giving birth seems insurmountable. But then it is as if something inside her pushes her to stare Death defiantly in the face with a strength not even she knew she had.

And that is why women are scary.

Because we all have it.

Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!

womens-day

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