Women must be honoured too

2018-01-21 05:43
Albertina Sisulu

Albertina Sisulu

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Dear Comrade Bathabile Dlamini

I hope my message finds you well. Last I heard, reports informed us of how visibly upset you were after the announcement of the voting results at the ANC's elective conference last year. On December 19, the women of the ANC woke up to the reality of a newly elected president of their organisation, and it was not Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Although not supported by the ANC's Women's League (ANCWL), Lindiwe Sisulu also failed to attract sufficient votes to secure the deputy president position.

You confided in us, citing how you were used by men. You appeared pretty upset. I was troubled with you. I mean, how dare they? What upset me more is that men just don’t stop. I was appreciative, however, that finally, in 2017, you got to realise how men use women for their ambitions. This is considering that you refused to call for the removal of former higher education deputy minister Mduduzi Manana. You said his attack on two women was “being used as a political tool”.

Comrade Bathabile, a few days ago, the ANC announced 2018 as the year of Nelson Mandela. We celebrate his efforts annually, dedicating 67 minutes of our time to doing good in his honour. July is truly one month when black and white reconcile.

May I remind you, Comrade Bathabile, that this year also marks the centenary of the birth of the mother of the nation, as she was affectionately known, and an important leader of anti-apartheid resistance: Ma Albertina Sisulu. She would have turned 100 in October. The only woman to attend the first ANC Youth League conference, Ma Sisulu later joined and assumed leadership roles in the ANCWL you lead today.

Despite being jailed several times, harassed by police, banned, subjected to solitary confinement and psychologically taunted, Ma Sisulu pressed on. It was Ma Sisulu’s home in Soweto that was a classroom until a law was passed against it. Ma Sisulu was elected co-president of the United Democratic Front. Ma Sisulu is nothing less than a hero and deserves nothing less than a year dedicated to commemorating her story and her efforts that helped us get to where we are today.

Comrade, the women’s march to the Union Buildings in 1956 was an emotional experience that bore positive results. Led and masterminded by four brave women, among them was a young defiant leader: a revolutionary and a radical Sophia Williams- De Bruyn, who was only 18 at the time.

It is my pleasure, Comrade, to inform you that Ma Sophie will turn 80 this year. The only living leader of that historic occasion. A founding member of the SA Congress of Trade Unions and one of the founding members of the ANC education council, which set the curriculum for the party’s college in Tanzania.

Another milestone was the celebration of the 55th anniversary of the Pan-African Women’s Organisation (Pawo) last year. One of its aims was to mobilise women to fight for their liberation, especially in countries that were still colonised. Today, it aims to remain a relevant and a strong voice for women in Africa and the world. Pawo’s current secretary-general is the South African-born Pinky Kekana, who is also an ANC MP.

These commemorations are important, Comrade Bathabile, not only to celebrate the achievements of women, but to once more mobilise women in the country, the continent and Diaspora to focus their collective energy on women and girl children.

Women in South Africa helped rectify and remedy the legacy of apartheid. Their demonstrations challenged an oppressive system, one that deepened the imbalances that contributed to the challenges which burden women the most.

I shouldn’t have to remind you, Comrade Bathabile, that women have always fought side by side with their men against colonisation. Women from all spheres of life should be celebrated for having contributed to the status of women.

I expect you to fight for the celebration of these extraordinary women. The ANCWL must declare 2018 the year of Ma Sisulu and offer a fitting celebration to all other women who achieved great things and changed the course of our history.

We want to build on the success of these women and continue to chronicle their role in our struggle. Let the country be educated on “her story”, so that young ones can be motivated and thrive to lead our society.

The late Mandela wasn’t alone in our struggle, comrade Bathabile, neither were men. Makudityanwe etshatshalazeni if push comes to shove. Noko kwanele ngoku.

Gcilishe is an activist and columnist

Read more on:    anc  |  ancwl  |  bathabile dlamini

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