On the occasion of Women’s Month…
IN NELSON MANDELA CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION YEAR (1918-2018)

Mvezo Komkhulu (The Great Place): – Today we pay tribute to the millions of women of our country, the African continent and the world for their contribution to humanity as we begin women’s month. Our own history is rich with epic stories of valour, courage and immense sacrifice made by the mothers, sisters, and daughters of our nation in the fight against colonialism and apartheid. Today, despite that colossal contribution, we are a deeply traumatised society characterised by endemic domestic violence, the scourge of rape and other forms of violence estimated to be five times the global average.

While we berate this sad state of affairs and urge government, faith groups, civil society formations and the private sector to work together to change this insipid culture of violence, we also celebrate the achievements of the past two-and-a-half decades of democracy that has enshrined women’s rights in our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and a myriad of institutions and programmes. We must heal our society and build on this strong platform so that we can truly be free. UTatomkhulu Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela reminded us that, “…to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”.

Today we call on all men, young and old, to respond to this call to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of women. We do so by ingraining into our psyches, individually and collectively, that every woman deserves the honour and respect that we accord to our own mothers, grandmothers, wives and daughters. There can be no excuse for dishonouring, disrespecting and humiliating the wombs that bore us and that will bear future generations.

We especially want to fly the flag of rural women in South Africa, Africa and the world as they face the unintended consequences of skewed development planning that leaves rural areas neglected, impoverished and under-developed. Poverty is the greatest violence perpetrated against rural women. They have been co-equal partners in our struggle for liberation and in building democracy in deep rural villages. This problem is systemic and must be addressed in all urgency.

Yesterday we saluted a young woman, Ahed Tamimi, for her bravery and courage. Every day there are countless women who make immense sacrifices in the struggles for human rights, freedom and dignity in occupied Palestine, Kashmir, Syria, Myanmar – and in countless other countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. These are the Albertina Sisulu’s of our time that we must celebrate during this women’s month. Let us strive to realise the ideals of our hero and global icon, Nelson Mandela, who said: “Peace is not just the absence of conflict; peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, class, caste, or any other social markers of difference.”

Nkosi Zwelivelile
Royal House of Mandela
Mvezo Komkhulu
P.O. Box 126
Viedgesville, 5102
Eastern Cape Province
South Africa

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