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Woman's Day — South African National Holiday

By August 9, 2013

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On 9 August 1956 the Federation of South African Women organized a mass demonstration against the imposition of pass laws on women in South Africa. More than 20,000 women, led by Lilian Ngoyi (a trade unionist and political activist), Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, took part in the multi-racial march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to deliver a petition to the prime minister JG Strijdom. (Strijdom was conveniently absent and had the Secretary to the Prime Minister accepted the petition in his stead!)

On the way to the Union Buildings the women sang a freedom song: "Wathint' abafazi, Strijdom!"

wathint' abafazi,
wathint' imbokodo,
uza kufa!

[When] you strike the women,
you strike a rock,
you will be crushed [you will die]!

The phrase wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo has come to represent women's courage and strength in South Africa.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the 1956 Women's March, the South African government decided to rename Strijdom Square, where the Union Buildings in Pretoria are, as Lillian Ngoyi Square - to honor of all those who took part in the historic event.

• Find out more about Federation of South African Women
• Find out more about Women's Anti-Pass Law Campaigns in South Africa


August 3, 2010 at 5:26 am
(1) sydney mhlongo says:

I think what our mother or our granmother did was a good thing to do,becouse some of them the are now learders and the a free.im sydney mhlongo i salute the woman an i also respect this month.it was nice of them

August 10, 2011 at 8:07 am
(2) REFS says:

i salute women of SA.’WATHINTA BAFAZI….’

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