09 August 2012 by Denise Slabbert

On the shoulders of giants

The <em>Mail & Guardian Book of South African Women</em> includes ordinary women from all walks of South African life doing extraordinary things.

Sarah Munyai, founder of Mukondeni Pottery

Women’s Day is celebrated on the 9th of August every year in South Africa and around the country women will be celebrating with their sistahs, friends and families.

M&amp;G Book of South African Women M&G Book of South African Women

Just what are we celebrating and why are we celebrating? 

Officially, we celebrate Women’s Day to remind us where we come from. It was on this day in 1956 when women from all races marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against apartheid. This historic march was a turning point for women in our country, and the 9th of August is a day when we can get together and remind ourselves of how far we have come on a very uneven road.

Why are we celebrating? So very many reasons, but basically because we CAN.

Why are we celebrating? So very many reasons, but basically because we CAN.

SO whether it’s over a braai with the family, a ladies' lunch with friends, a well-deserved afternoon nap or a day at the spa – it’s a great day to allow ourselves just to let go of our obligations, even for a moment or two.

It’s also a great day to reflect on the achievements and guidance of those around us. Some clever person (actually, Isaac Newtown) once referred to spending time with great souls as ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ and there’s no better book to help one get into that headspace than The Mail & Guardian Book of South African Women 2012 that was launched yesterday.

Mitta Lebaka, of the Children of Fire organisation Mitta Lebaka, of the Children of Fire organisation

I’m a bit biased about this particular book as I was part of the team that put it together, but just start going through the pages or the website (www.bow2012.mg.co.za)  and you’ll soon start to understand why South African women are so very special.

There is Sarah Munyai, an elder from Limpopo province, who transformed her village through pottery, there’s Mitta Lebaka, a burn victim who fights for the rights of children, there’s Sarah Blecher who made a magnificent film called Otello Burning, there’s Josephine Tshaboeng, who was once a domestic worker and is now a property developer. Artists, volunteers, housewives, environmentalists, gender activists – they’re all there – gloriously photographed by Sally Shorkend and standing strong in all their glory.

I want to be like them when I grow up, but for now I’ll stand on the shoulders of giants and view the world from a higher place.

Happy Women’s Day!


Category: Culture & History

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