Canada Day is one of my favourite days. Having traveled and lived abroad, I always feel a deep sense of pride in celebrating my country.
The only holiday I will be in South Africa for is National Women's Day on August 9th. I am thrilled to be able to be there for a commemoration of woman and their bravery.
On August 9, 1956 women stood up en masse to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act (known as the Pass Laws) of 1950. Pass Laws required woman of African decent to carry a pass to prove that they were allowed to enter a "white area" during the Apartheid regime.
20,000 woman from all parts of South Africa, of every age and race, marched on Union Buildings in Pretoria. They left bundles of petitions containing more than 100,000 signatures at the prime ministers door. They stood outside in silence for 30 minutes, many with children on their backs. Those who worked as nannies for white families had their charges with them. The women sang 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.)
The full transcript of the petition can be read here. It's not very long, but it's very powerful.
The march was a resounding success. August 9th pays tribute to the bravery of these women who risked arrest, detention and banning to gain their liberty.
More information can be found at South Africa Explored, and on their Blog.