Whilst attending the KwaZulu Natal provincial women’s day in Ongoye University, Premier Sbusiso Ndebele revealed a story of historical significance, that women struggles began well before the famous march in 1956.
In the Zulu Kingdom, it was customary that warriors would be rewarded when coming back victorious from battles. One of their rewards was to choose wives from amongst the young maidens. King Cetshwayo commanded just that in 1876. The girls responded, “Ucu alulingani”(the necklace does not fit).
The fathers and brothers were fuming. How can our kids and sisters defy the king, “umlomo ongathethi amanga” (the sacred voice). Families were divided, men on one side and women on the other. Young girls started running away with their boyfriends, brothers started chasing them. Not all of them were lucky, some were found and brutally killed by their brothers together with their boyfriends.
Despite the killings, that action marked the first steps in dealing with the patriarchal society that women found themselves in. A profound statement was made in that year that women will not stand men taking decisions about their lives.
1956 was a culmination of many struggles that women had been waging in their daily lives.