Celebrating South Africa’s Women’s Day

Each year on 9 August, South Africa celebrates Women’s Day. We honour more than 20,000 women who marched in protest of the pass laws.

During Apartheid, black people were required to carry passes designed to restrict their movements. If they were found to not have their passes, police would arrest and sentence them to prison. On 9 August 1956, thousands of women from different racial and cultural backgrounds marched to the Union Buildings to deliver petitions to the Prime Minister.

What makes this day so important in South Africa’s history?

It was diverse in essence. There were women of all races and backgrounds; black women, Indian women, domestic workers with their white employers’ babies on their backs. It also went against what was expected of women at that time. They refused to be quiet and sit back while the brutal Apartheid system tore their families apart.

One of the most iconic phrases sung at the march was: “you strike a woman, you strike a rock.”

Lead by extraordinary women such as Lilian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph and Sophia de Bruyn, women fought for a non-racist and non-sexist South Africa.

What has actually changed since then?

Sophia de Bruyn, one of the few living marchers of that day, wrote on Twitter that she is disappointed in the little progress made since then. In South Africa, rates of violence against women are so high that it is normalised in society.

Some people blame women for provoking a man. Women who are abused by their partners are unable to leave. Some people even think that violence in a marriage is normal. Personally, I feel that as a country we tolerate and normalize many things we shouldn’t. Even though we have one of the most inclusive constitutions, government and civil organizations can only do so much.

Celebrating inspiring South African women

It is important that we celebrate inspiring South African women and remain positive that we can end inequality, discrimination and violence.

To many South Africans, Caster Semenya is probably the most iconic athlete of our time. But the rest of the world demonize and mock her for…well, not being woman enough. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has subjected her to gender testing for years. If you read her posts on social media, you’ll know that she tries her best to rise above the negativity.

Lady Skollie is a self-proclaimed ‘pussy power prophet’. She is a feminist artist who explores themes of sex, gender roles, violence and heritage in her work. Nothing in her work is taboo. In celebration of 25 years of democracy, she has recently designed new SA coins. 

Then there is our very own Queen B, Bonang Matheba. She is a media personality who knows what she wants and works hard for it. She has a bursary fund that pays for girls’ university tuition costs and aims to send 300 girls to university by 2021.

Happy Women’s Day South Africa!

Has Today’s Feminism Gone Too Far?

A common critique of today’s feminism is that it has ‘gone too far’. Some say that we’ve ‘created’ a gender ideology, that we hate men, that we cook up harassment stories, and that we’re easily offended, angry or radical. Others want to belittle feminism by calling it a fad.

‘Today’s feminism’ implies that, once upon a time, there was a more acceptable, amicable and effective feminist movement. When people criticise ‘today’s feminism’, they assume that ‘yesterday’s feminism’ was preferable. And I wonder, was it?

The first wave of feminism took place between the 19th and early 20th centuries. It focused on achieving women’s suffrage among other basic rights. These feminists were known as the Suffragettes. The right to vote, to property and to divorce may seem like obvious demands now, but they were met with ridicule at the time.

Suffragettes were depicted by media outlets as disgusting, boisterous and radical.

Men who supported them were publicly mocked. Anti-suffragists claimed that women’s ability to vote would grow radicalism, increase domestic terrorism, and generally turn the world on its head.

Anti-Suffragette Cartoon from 1908


A second wave of feminists emerged in the 1960s. These women fought for sexual and reproductive freedom, against strict beauty norms and for their right to work outside the home.

Second wave feminism suffered a tremendous backlash.

Society declared them ‘petty’ for discussing bras and body hair instead of ‘real problems’. Feminists at this time were heavily stereotyped as being humourless, hairy-legged, man-hating and unhappy women. Media outlets censored their fight by using the past tense when referring to feminism and falsely declaring that feminism was ‘dead’.

As a backlash to the backlash, a third wave of feminism sprouted in the 1990s – largely influenced by punk and underground trends. Third-wave feminists fought for social justice and focused on increasing the intersectionality and inclusivity missing from earlier forms of feminism. However, once again, they were demonised with the same arguments: man-hating, ugly, crazy, going too far.

I make these brief historical references to point out that no feminism has ever been fully celebrated. And in the current fourth-wave of feminism, which uses digital tools to strengthen the fight, anti-feminist voices are as loud as ever.

Anti-feminists have been critiquing ‘today’s feminism’ for decades.

Doing so allows them to acknowledge that widely-celebrated changes from the past were good, while simultaneously attempt to halt current and future progress.

Most people today will agree that to vote is a basic right and that women deserve economic independency and sexual agency. But not everyone understands yet that trans women are women, that sexism is an everyday problem and that the pay gap exists.

In 30 years time, we will look back and think of the #MeToo movement as a crucial point on the feminism timeline. It will be recognised as a necessary step on the way to equality – in the same way that no one now doubts that women’s suffrage was worth the fight.

One day in the future, 2019’s feminism will be normalised and seen as worth the fight. But for this to happen, we must never let them tell us that we’ve gone too far.

From Girl to Woman: the Unpredictable Journey!

The transition between childhood and adulthood is a time to face the reality of making your own decisions – decisions that could make or break you.

For me, as a young woman in Uganda, the transition from girl to woman began at university, right from choosing what course to study to the never-ending thoughts and questions of what I wanted to be in the future.

After university, I went through one of the toughest and most confusing times for most young Ugandans – the months between when you are done with school and when you await graduation. You are not a student and neither are you employed, you have no source of income and neither are you getting much support from your parents. There’s only the constant question in your head, WHAT NEXT?

Since then I’ve been involved in a number of campaigns, volunteered with different organizations, held a successful fundraiser and outreach and I’m currently in the process of starting up my own organization whose main focus will be girls and young women. At the moment I own a small beauty supply store that was started online and moved into premises a year later. I’m now on the search for bigger premises, as well as working on another business idea. 

The journey has been difficult at times, but I’ve learnt a lot in my transition from girl to young woman so far. Here’s my top advice! 

Take the risk.

This is both in business and life in general. Do not listen to that little voice in your head telling you that you can’t make it. It’s not easy to ignore it but once you succumb to it, you’ll always be held back and never realize your full potential.

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” (Thomas Jefferson)

Grab every opportunity.

Sometimes we come across opportunities that we think are too big for us or that we don’t deserve. Fill out as many applications, knock on as many doors, visit as many offices, make as many calls as you can. You may not get them all but even one can make a difference, besides – how will you know if you don’t try?

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” (Milton Berle)

Start small.

The saying goes that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The most important step is to start and let the small things multiply. Eventually you’ll get there.

“Dream big, start mall, but most of all, start.” (Simon Sinek)

Determination, focus and zeal.

If you are determined, nothing can stand in your way, and if you portray these three qualities in everything that you do people will always be eager to help. There will be bad days, there will be tough times, but each time you fall never tire of standing up.

“Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.” 

Keep the right company.

It’s not about how many people you keep around you, it’s about what kind of people.

“Surround yourself with people who have dreams, desire and ambition; they’ll help you push for and realize your own”

Learn to let go.

Be it a relationship, friendship, job or business venture that could be tearing you down, hurting you or holding you back, let it go. Not everything is meant to be, it’s a harsh reality that we all have to face at some point in life.

“One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you cannot change.”

There’s no formula or straight path in life. You may not get what you want when you want it but eventually you do, as long as you don’t stop trying. I may not have it all figured out yet, but I will someday, and so will you!

Not Today

This smile made you believe that everything was fine, but not today.
For today, my lips have learnt to rest the gentle curves of this fake smile.
These eyes made you believe that the hurt was momentary, but not today.
For today, my veiled eyes have learnt to feel relief for a while.

These hands held yours, ever so tightly to fix your broken pieces, but not today.
For today, my hands have learnt to liberate the pain.
These footsteps followed your path for a long time, but not today.
For today, my steps have learnt to find their way back home again.

This soul filled your deep, black void endlessly, but not today.
For today, my exhausted soul has learnt how to take it slow.
This heart has been your solace all this time, but not today.
For today, my lonely heart has learnt to love itself; also to let go.

These words lit up your darkest days, but not today.
For today, my whispers have learnt not to utter false accolades.
These thoughts craved your delight and safety always, but not today.
For today, my mind has learnt to paint my thoughts in happier shades.

This spirit carried your burdens during bleaker times, but not today.
For today, my kindred spirit has learnt to no longer be enslaved.
This strength in me, fought your battles through long nights, but not today.
For today, my inner strength has learnt that not everyone can be saved.

I gave my mind, body and soul to make you whole;
To complete your being, I gave you unconditional control.
At each mistake, I absolved you of all crimes;
So, today, I head my own way. Today, I let go of past times.

I lied, I made excuses, to justify why your actions don’t match what you say.
I now realize, at first slight I should have walked away.
And you took, and took, and never once thought to give back.
So, for today, I refuse to be my own setback.

This side of yours, my beloved, I did not foresee.
So, from this day on, I’m for me, and only me.

South Africa, Let’s Stay Positive

How do we stay positive in a country experiencing a continuous increase in gender-based violence?

In South Africa, it has been reported that femicide is on the rise, with South African Police data reporting that the murder rate for women increased drastically by 7.7% between 2015 and 2016/17. New cases are reported on a daily basis and more women are silently suffering in abusive relationships than ever before. It’s all over the news, happening in our circles to those we love and destroying lives of too many South African women.

In light of the newly released statistics on domestic violence in South Africa, I’ve found myself struggling more than ever to stay positive and hopeful for the future of our country and future generations.

Fighting for a cause should be a crucial part of all of our lives, even with the reality it shoves upon us. Living in a country where human rights have evolved and made such historic progress, but where barriers are still entrenched and need to be navigated around, it feels as though progress is now on an elongated plateau.

So how exactly can we stay positive in light of all of this?

As difficult as it can be, getting involved is the answer. Being confronted by the brutality and violence can fire up a warrior inside us and spur on the fight. It can urge us to speak up and confront the distressful situation in the country head on. We need to acknowledge the reality and tackle it whole-heartedly. We need to converse, share opinions, listen to each other and form a community.

It is a fight that each and every one of us must take part in. It is our duty to stand up for women by raising awareness to the injustice in our society.

This is a call on South Africans to be brave, stand up, and speak out against gender based violence.

Without disregarding the reality of the situation, we also need to focus on the positive milestones women have achieved and are currently achieving around the world – and especially in our own country. Without the belief that things are going to get better – they won’t.

In South Africa we celebrate August as Women’s Month. This year, it was welcomed by thousands of gender equality activists, members of the LGBTQI+ community and women across the country who took to the streets on August 1st in a march to raise awareness against gender-based violence.

#TheTotalShutDown echoed throughout the whole month. Whether it was online, within communities or chatter on the streets – we had people talking. “My body, not your crime scene” was chanted throughout the country. Women were urged to join nationwide marches and those who weren’t able to were asked to avoid work places and take a moment of silence for all the victims of femicide.

Flickering fires of passion were ignited within women no matter their cultural, racial, political or social differences for one common goal – justice for fellow sisters. It was mesmerising watching women come together and embrace their differences while connecting with each other. Women found themselves in each other.

South African women have fought this brutal reality so passionately and for so long, we cannot let it win. No matter how difficult, we have to believe that we can make a difference and mend this broken country.

We are warriors and will be remembered in history as the ones who carried the fight.

She Chose to be Strong

She knew she could become weak,
but she had the choice to stay at her peak.
She knew she could rest,
but she had the choice to be her best.
She knew she could give up,
but she had the choice to stand up.
She knew she could wither,
but she had the choice to shimmer.
She knew she could hide,
but she had the choice to fight what’s inside.
She knew she could be ordinary,
but she had the choice to be legendary.
She knew she could be another dead soul,
but she had the choice to achieve her goal.
She knew she could always crave,
but she had the choice to be brave.
She knew she could close all the doors
but she had the choice to explore the abandoned floors.
She knew she could be a survivor,
but she had the choice to be a warrior.
She knew she could not withstand the storm; and so she chose to be the storm.
She knew she had the choice; and so she chose to be strong.