9 August 2012 – National Women’s Day – South Africa

Never post a blog in a rage – good sage advice. Well heeded. However, sometimes, one needs to let the rage surface, just enough to bubble into comprehension, perhaps one thing will come out that makes sense of the mad world we live in…

I grew up in a family surrounded by strong women. At home, I had my Grandma, my Mother, my three amazing sisters. Next door, Auntie Tiets (yes, that’s her real name), Auntie Shabira across the road, Auntie Malam the neighbour, Auntie Miriam a street away, Penlyn Ma, Aziza, Ghairoe, Suraya, Bhanu, and the list goes on. Each of these women had some small role to play in who I became as a man and who I am today.

I saw women suffer, toil, struggle, survive and thrive. I saw meals cooked with no budget, yet fit to feed kings. I saw women who lost husbands at a young age, left with small children, but who refused to allow suitors to line up, in respect to their dead husbands memory, rather choosing to live the life of widows.

I saw women raise children while their husbands were off screwing anything that moved (yes, everyone knew about it) and the same men sat in Mosque next to me on a Friday. I saw these women smile, wipe the snot off the face of another child (number 6), and simply carry on.

I saw women go to work for the first time, when useless men simply dropped them, and take work that would make a migrant worker wince. Hard.

I saw a mother go to work to help a depression ridden household, leaving 4 children at home to fend for themselves, then cry herself to sleep after working on another dress for another low paying customer, the tiredness soaked in so deep that she did not even know she was tired anymore.

And through this, I saw women as beautiful, sensuous, loving, caring, fallible, happy, sad, sickly, healthy, pregnant, and again, teaching, nurturing, comforting, praying and many other things – but the one thing I never saw was a weak woman. I saw strength, and when it was not visible, I was made aware by other women.

I grew to love Woman, not just for the breast I could see, the bums protruding, the glow of healthy hair, but for what was hidden inside. When Auntie X was beaten by her husband, I saw her bruises, and learnt that that was not the way to treat a woman.

So I guess what makes me mad, sad and a little bit angry (OK, a lot of angry) is that now, in 2012, so many women are still treated as second rate citizens, abused, raped, scorned, mistreated and generally ignored. Why, in a society that pretends to be based on equality, a woman is still seen in the same old stereotyped role, a mold that perpetuates and cannot be broken?

And we need a day to remind us of this? No, this Women’s Day is not a celebration – but rather a reminder of what still needs to be done – the silent woman needs a voice, the abused wife needs your support, the young girl needs to learn that being a woman is about so ┬ámuch more.

I end by thanking those women who made me who I am – who formed me into the man I am. Each of you are remembered today. This is your day.