Women’s march commemorated

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Refilwe Mekoa

The Free State ANC Women’s League will march in Bloemfontein on 28 May to commemorate the 100 years of a prosperous women’s protest march in 1913.  Two hundred women belonging to the then Bantu Women’s League (BWL) marched from Waaihoek location on 28 May 1913 to the city hall to submit a petition of over 5 000 signatures. About 80 women were arrested after they tore up their passes. It was in the same year that the Native Land Act, aimed at regulating the acquirement of land by black people, was introduced.

The ANCWL chairperson, Sisi Ntombela, says they will march from Waaihoek to the city hall on the same streets the women had marched in 1913 to honour them. She says this march had been the first one before the 9 August 1956 anti-pass law at the Union Buildings and it played an important role in history. Ntombela believes if women owned land in the province, it will also fight poverty.
“We have the petition that they wrote on that day. They were complaining about IDs and the land act law. They didn’t want to carry the pass registration and wanted women to be given land. During this march we want to evaluate how many women have land and say to the government it must give more women land to own,” she says.

Ntombela continued saying they will also be handing out blankets and food parcels to less-fortunate women. The women’s league has also discovered 20 names of the women who marched in 1913 and their families will be contacted. She says it is important to involve all the families during the commemoration. Some of the women’s names found are: Ruth Tabani, Chatherine Simon, Amelia Twayi, Martha Maphikela, Sarah Letshabu, Liza Jafta, Jane Moroka and Georgina Taaibos. “We just want to say to those women, thank you for what they did for us. We are who we are today because of them. Since they handed over their memorandum, their requests did prevail regarding the land act. Women, it is time to work very hard and turn around the lives of other women. We should be united and support each other. Let’s take an example from the 1913 women,” says Ntombela.