Time for black women to demand justice, respect

What we need is to advocate for one another, unapologetically.

Members of The Total Shutdown movement march from the magistrate’s court in North End to the City Hall to hand a memorandum to mayor Athol Trollip.
Members of The Total Shutdown movement march from the magistrate’s court in North End to the City Hall to hand a memorandum to mayor Athol Trollip.
Image: Werner Hills

I joined politics in the real sense in 2014. I was 31 years old. I say in the real sense because I feel we all participate in politics in one way or the other.

Some participate through their vote, some through community protest, even social media can play a vital role in challenging the government to do what the community wants and needs it to do.

I decided for the first time to join an actual political party.

What propelled me to leave the comfort of conformity and decide to actively participate in this space was not a choice – I was propelled through my circumstances.

You will never know what it is to be black, unless you are black. Better still, you will never know what it is to be at the bottom of the barrel until you are a black woman.

We are told we are the most sought-after commodity in the economic sphere, in the banking spaces, in the engineering and mining sectors, yet when we arrive in those spaces, we have to bear brass balls in order for any recognition to come our way.

Consciousness is not a choice I and many other women I’ve met chose. In SA consciousness will find you.

The South African reality for us as black women is dark and oftentimes unnecessary.

Pray tell me why my mother would sacrifice all the days of her life for me to get a Model C education, go on to tertiary education, only for me to be a “quota” and get paid half the salary of my white counterparts, never mind my male counterparts?

Better yet, in 2018 women in SA who have amassed any kind of success, are seen to have done so through their anatomy.

There needs to be a decisive effort from the private sector, as well as government, to seek true transformation for women.

As it was with the liberation of our people from the system of apartheid, it seems to be now for us black women to fight to be seen as human.

Where can a black woman find space to breathe? Where can she exhale?

As it is with the mushrooming of fly-by-night churches through the need for spiritual awakening, I notice a certain kind of shape taking place in the manner in which we protest.

My death, my rape, my abuse, is turning into an industry that seeks to glorify and self-exhibit.

I see it in the slogans, I see in the marches, I see it in our speeches. It revolts me.

Pain is commercialised to a point where slogans and memorandums are the only way we seek to be heard.

I want a solution that will interrogate what truly needs to be done to curb the disease of femicide.

How are we to kill the socio-economic ills of the societies we live in? We are all unsafe.

I find myself thinking the statistics of women and child abuse are so high in Nelson Mandela Bay, let alone SA, where a black woman is raped each and every second – mostly by someone she knows – where young women in tertiary institutions are not safe from the very young men we are raising, is it enough to commercialise and politicise our pain?

Are slogans and picketing the way to go?

Or should we take arms to apho ithole lifele khona (the heart of the problem)?

Will men, black men in particular, take responsibility for their actions? We say all men are trash . . . will the ones who say “not all of us” take it to the streets and march with us?

Will the judiciary system, which favours men and the moneyed, ever be corrected in a democratic country?

Why is it that we seem to report more on the rapes and murders of black women most in Women’s Month?

Where is the department of women? Why can we not tell stories of success? Who will our girl children use as role models if all they see from us is brokenness and victimhood?

What we need is female leadership that is going to make a decision. What we need is women in all spheres, black women, who are tired and who are not going to beg for relevance from men.

What we need is to advocate for one another, unapologetically.

I for one will advocate, when we get our land back, for the stance of One Woman One Hectare!

  •  Yoliswa Yako, EFF councillor in Nelson Mandela Bay