Women’s March, 9 August 1956
On 9 August each year, South Africa celebrates National Women’s Day.
On this day in 1956, some 20 000 women from all over the country
marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. They protested against the
unjust pass laws of the apartheid government.
Today, 50 years later, South Africa is a democracy with a non-sexist
and non-racist society. To mark the 50th anniversary of the women’s
march, the Office of the Status of Women in the Presidency is
organising special celebrations.
Adoption of the Constitution, 8 May 1996
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa was adopted on May 8,
1996. On December 10, 1996, it was signed into law. Before it was
fully approved to become law, the words were revised and changed to be
in line with the Constitutional guidelines negotiated at Codesa
(Convention for a Democratic South Africa) in 1991. Many people were
involved in the process of writing the Constitution. It was the
largest public participation programme ever carried out in South
Africa. After nearly two years of consulting with various groups, the
final text was written. It includes the ideas of ordinary citizens, as
well as organisations and political parties, thus representing the
combined wisdom of the country’s people.
The Constitution calls on all South Africans to embrace a non-racist,
non-sexist, open and democratic society based on human dignity,
equality and freedom.
100th anniversary of Bambata Rebellion, 4 April 1906
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Bambata Rebellion. In
1906 Chief Bambata led his people in protest against poll tax. The tax
was introduced by the colonial government of the province that was
then called Natal. Chief Bambata believed that the £1 (one pound) tax
was unfair because his people could not afford to pay it. The tax was
introduced to force people into working for wages to get cash to pay
the tax rather than living off the land.
colonial government reacted against the protest with force and Chief
Bambata was killed.
Soweto Uprising, 16 June 1976
June 16, 1976, schoolchildren in Soweto protested against the
apartheid government’s unjust education laws. Their main problem was
that it was compulsory for black learners to be taught in Afrikaans,
but there were also other racial problems and frustrations with Bantu
uprising started peacefully, but became violent when the police fired
shots at the young protestors. Some 575 people died and over 3 000
were injured. Through this uprising, resistance spread to more
50th anniversary of the Treason Trial, 3 August 1956
Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955. The apartheid government arrested
156 people and charged them with treason.
of them were leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), the
Congress of Democrats, the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured
People’s Congress, and the South African Congress of Trade Unions. As
a group they were known as the Congress Alliance.
years later they were all acquitted.
19 October 1986,
20th Anniversary of the death of Samora Machel
1986, the former President of Mozambique, Samora Machel, died in a
plane crash in Mbuzini, Mpumalanga. Twenty four passengers died with
him. Because the real cause of the crash is still not known or whether
it was really an accident, President Thabo Mbeki asked that it should
be looked into again. The Minister of Safety and Security said that
the investigation into what happened 20 years ago on that day will be
re-opened in co-operation with Mozambique.
Miner’s Strike, 12 August 1946
Thirty years ago, on 12 August 1946, some 60 000 black mine workers in
Johannesburg started a strike for higher wages. The strike was led by
the African Mine Workers Union, whose president, JB Marks, was also a
leader in the South African Communist Party. In the week that
followed, the police and army used violence to crush the strike.
September 1906, Satyagraha centenary
year marks the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha –
passive resistance campaign.
11 September 1906 Mahatma Gandhi started the movement known as
Satyagraha in Johannesburg. It promoted non-violence as a way to
protest against injustice. On this day, Indians in the then Transvaal
province, started a programme of peaceful resistance against the
unfair registration and pass laws of the apartheid government.