Heated debate on powerful role of black women

Conversations around black consciousness and feminism spurred a heated debate among the audience at the ninth annual Steve Biko Memorial lecture at the Nelson Mandela University on Thursday.
Conversations around black consciousness and feminism spurred a heated debate among the audience at the ninth annual Steve Biko Memorial lecture at the Nelson Mandela University on Thursday.

Conversations around black consciousness and feminism spurred a heated debate among the audience at the ninth annual Steve Biko Memorial lecture at the Nelson Mandela University on Thursday.

An all-women panel spoke on the theme “Black women you are on your own, a feminist ghost dance with Biko”.

Chapman High grade 12 pupil Courtney Thomas spoke about social ills and stigmas faced by young women in her area.

She said women saw themselves as “inferior objects”, saying they should empower themselves and be academics to leave a footprint in history.

Thomas said women downgraded themselves because they were treated like objects.

“Why does society frown upon women who breastfeed in public, yet it is fine with the public urination by men?

“The way people dress is seen as a window to their conscious mind, but who said that by wearing a short skirt you are a slut?”

She said women should not be afraid to be seen as smart and during apartheid there had been no shortage of women fighting alongside men.

University of Pretoria political sciences MA student Zaphesheya Dlamini spoke of the black consciousness movement and black feminism from an academic perspective, where her analogy implied that black consciousness marginalised women.

“We should look at the time that black consciousness was being enacted. Gender in its broad and small strokes at the time was yet to be insidiously articulated in the [liberation protests] across the board.”

Dlamini said within black consciousness race took supremacy and sidelined gender-based issues.

Dlamini’s words sparked a discussion that perhaps there were misconceptions regarding black consciousness.

Sharing his perspective, Mendo Ramncwana said racial contradictions could only be solved by power relations.

“If we don’t match the dominant race in terms of power, there will never be racial equality,” he said.

“The black female is the power base for black power, not males alone, nor females alone.”

Babalwa Magoqwana said the objective of the lecture was to educate young scholars.

“The topic is saying, your mother that is at home, who has been feeding your family with or without your father – that woman matters, that woman is carrying the whole country on her shoulders,” she told pupils in the audience.

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