Jo'burg honours 1956 heroines

Thursday, August 15, 2013

By Gabi Khumalo

Johannesburg – The City of Johannesburg has honoured the women who participated in the renowned 1956 march by conferring the Freedom of the City to the brave heroines who played a role in shaping the course of South Africa’s liberation struggle.

Speaking on Thursday at the Freedom of the City conferment ceremony held at Nasrec, an emotional Sophie de Bruyn – who is one of the four leaders of the 9 August 1956 women’s march against pass laws - said the day was a special one for women.

De Bruyn said she was privileged to represent the women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956. Although Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa are no longer alive, their contribution to the liberation struggle was further immortalised today as Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau bestowed the city’s most coveted award on them.

“I was free in 1994 when I cast my vote for the first time, but today I will go home more free, thanks to the Johannesburg City Council under the leadership of the ANC,” said De Bruyn.

“We are humbled by the gesture shown today by the city and commend them for honouring the women of 1956. We salute women who contributed to the struggle for a free, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society.

“The awards represent the bravery displayed by women of South Africa for the last 100 years, and we stood firm against apartheid and pass laws. The discipline and resilience of the 20 000 women should inspire women to persevere and make a contribution in building our country.”

De Bruyn, who commended Tau’s leadership role in the city, encouraged citizens to continue contributing towards building a safer city for all to realise the “world class African city” which they aspire to.

Tau said National Women’s Month was an appropriate moment to celebrate the role played by women in shaping the country.

He said that by bestowing the city’s highest accolade on the four women leaders, the city was celebrating the role played by generations past, present and those to come.

“We also celebrate the significant gains that have been made in the field of women’s rights and gender empowerment during the almost two decades since the advent of democracy,” said Tau.

He said Johannesburg was proud of the role that exceptional women continued to play in leadership positions in the city, and the contribution they were making towards the future growth and development of Africa’s premier metropolitan area. –

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