Photo Credit:Ashraf Hendricks.
With South Africa counting down to the 150 years anniversary of Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke, the country has been reminded of her contribution to the fight against patriarchy in society.
“There’s been discrimination against her throughout her life but these actions never discouraged her or broke her spirit to place women issues on the agenda. She became a symbol of resistance, a torch bearer and a trend setter,” Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said.
The Minister’s tribute comes as South Africa continues to experience high prevalence of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).
“We meet at a time when we are faced with gender-based violence... In rememberance of Mannya-Maxeke, we have to intensify the struggle which she lived to fight -fighting patriarchy in society,” Mthethwa said.
He was on Friday addressing the virtual launch of the Countdown to the 150 years anniversary of Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke in 2021.
“…The struggle of gender equality is a struggle of all humanity. It is mostly upon men to take their place and play their role in the fight against the very patriarchy, which defines the kind of men that we have today in our country, who continue to kill women,” the Minister said.
Mannya-Maxeke has been described as an activist, leader, trade unionist, spiritual leader, artist, gender activist, a fighter against patriarchy, revolutionist and death defying being.
“We are talking of a woman, who defied all odds stacked against her and achieved the highest honour by graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in America, outsmarting even her own oppressors and men of her own elk.
“People would comment on her getting into meetings, which ordinarily society didn’t expect her to be there. She was defiant. That’s because she lived ahead of her time,” Mthethwa said.
He said one year after the formation of the ANC in 1913, she led women in Bloemfontein to burn passes, defiant against authorities.
The Year of Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke initiative was launched by the National Heritage Council (NHC) and Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke Institute (CMMI), in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture.
“As the CMMI, our mission is to ensure her work comes to light, so that this generation can use her story as a torch in solving today’s challenges,” CMMI chairperson Thulani Makhanya said.
He said the activities to highlight Mannya-Maxeke’s work and encourage dialogue amongst all people in society will start towards the end of June.
“With the current challenges that we are facing with the killing of women... as men in society, we should stand with our women and make sure that safety is paramount. We join the President’s call in saying GBV cannot be tolerated,” Makhanya said.