This is the evolution of me coming to understand South Africa’s Women’s Day, which is today, August 9 (or 9 August, as I really need to get used to writing for my “job“):
1. “I could take Thursday off work.” Collin told me earlier this week. “It’s Women’s Day.”
“You are not a woman.”
“Eh, I’ll take it.”
2. I was getting my hair cut yesterday morning. The women in the salon were chatting about the weather. My stylist said, “I don’t care about anything but what it is like tomorrow. I am spending my day OUTSIDE.” Then they all shared their Women’s Day plans with each other.
I butted in, “So do people generally get off work for Women’s Day?”
“It’s a public holiday.” She said, like I was a total fool.
“Oh, those are only for postal workers and bankers where I come from.”
She raised her eyebrows and continued thinning my hair with some amazing twist-and-serrated-scissor-chop method that I need to teach all other hairstylists in the world.
3. Enough confusion: time to Google the damn thing.
Women’s Day isn’t just a “be nice to the ladies” day. It’s a celebration of the anniversary of a protest organized, executed, and populated by women against apartheid. Specifically, against proposed changes to the “pass laws” that required black South Africans to carry documents whenever they left their “designated areas” or risk arrest.
Lilian Ngoyi, Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, Albertina Sisulu, and Helen Joseph of the Federation of South African Women led a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where they presented the Prime Minister with petitions with over 100,000 signatures protesting the pass laws. While marching and waiting to be acknowledged by the prime minister, they sang protest songs including present South African national anthem/most beautiful song ever “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” and “Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!” key lyrics of which roughly translate to, “When you strike a woman, you strike a rock!”
So basically this is the most awesome holiday ever.
Anyway, I will be celebrating Women’s Day by finishing my next piece for Bitch Flicks and then cheering on the US Women’s National Team in the Gold Medal Soccer game. Hooray for women!