We’re back! And what better day for a comeback than on International Woman’s Day???
Our country, and the world at large, is going through so much right now and women abuse is at an all-time high.
So we thought we’d take a positive spin by giving homage to women whose footprint and influence has shown them to be nothing but leader warriors.
We’re taking a look at five of the many women who remind us of our strengths and ability to lead the world into a better place.
These are women who have proven to us that the female species not only brings life to this world, but it remains #unfuckwithable.
1. Don’t touch my hair #Revolutionary
“Asking me to change my hair is like asking me to erase my blackness.”
Black people have, by far, the most beautiful hair you can ever find out there.
It’s beauty lies somewhere between the different textures it comes in, and its malleability. You can literally do anything with it! For any hairstyle there ever was under the sun, with black hair, you can achieve it.
However for the longest time, our hair has been a point of ridicule. I don’t think there is any black person (especially women and girls) you will meet, that has never had a “hair problem”. If you have been a student, an employee, or had been part of any systematic establishment, your hair – at some point in your life – has probably been “a problem”.
Go on Google. Search for “professional hair”. Go to image search and check the results. Now type a new search, and search for “unprofessional hair”. See what I mean? I was hoping, while writing this, to get a better result. But nothing has changed.
It’s an unfortunate general perception that black hair is unruly and It needs to be tamed. And according to Google, it is also unprofessional.
Such a detestable thing our hair is to the world, that around where I’m from (most Xhosa communities), we refer to it as “Kaffir Hare”, meaning “Kaffir Hair”. Now Kaffir, if you’re familiar with the South African Apartheid history, is the most derogatory and racist term you could ever say to a black person. Sort of what ‘colored’ is to Americans (even though “coloured” is a term of cultural pride here in SA), but Kaffir is a no-no.
So vile is the word Kaffir, that Vicky Momberg – a real estate agent – got arrested AND convicted by saying it one too many times. Now imagine, we (around where I’m from) use this term to refer to our hair. It just gives you an idea of the intense conditioning we have towards hating and believing our hair to be a nuisance.
Now, with all this background history that I’ve just given you, imagine a child, of no older than 13 years old, standing up to an entire school system and saying: ‘Don’t touch my hair. Leave my hair alone. This is my crown. It is my heritage. It is who I am and I shall wear it with pride’. Which is just what Zulaikha Patel conveyed, when she and her classmates changed her schools policy regarding black hair.
She inspired an entire nation by remaining #unfuckwithable with her leadership, which will forever remain revolutionary in the history of South Africa.
2. “I’m not here to make things easy for you” #Courageous
If you ever needed a definition of the word ‘brave’, ditch the dictionary and search for Cheryl Zondi.
Ngesi Xhosa sithi ‘unesibindi’. In more colloquial terms, we’ve loosely, and directly translated this to: ’she has a liver’. Simply put (and because abelungu abayazi uba ndithini), Cheryl Zondi is the epitome of bravery.
Just a bit of a background, Cheryl Zondi was the first person to take a stand against Timothy Omotoso, a Nigerian pastor who is accused of raping her – from the tender age of 14 – and many other women who were congregants of his church.
Through her testimony, I think we all felt the “might of the law” unfold right in-front our eyes. After watching the trial, I came to the conclusion that the law is completely apathetic towards any psychological effects rape victims might have encountered as a result of their experience. It was harsh and it was brutal.
But, through all of that, Cheryl maintained her composure. She spoke with courage and grace. I have never seen a person remain so calm in such an emotionally exhausting experience, that basically forced her to relay her abuse-ridden past. But she did. Totally undeterred by the amount of pressure she was under.
As the first person who led the testimonies, she paved a way, for not only the victims of Omotoso, but for every other woman who has been sexually attacked and affected by rape.
3. Remember Khwezi #Bold
…she who fought a battle she stood to lose. But we never forgot.
I shall never forget the day when four young women upstaged a nations president (Jacob Zuma, a previous South African president who stood trail, facing rape charges he was later acquitted of), through a silent protest where they held placards reading: “I am one in 3”, “#”,”10 years later”, “Khanga” and “Remember Khwezi”; before they were forcibly removed by security from the premises.
These four women reminded me of the reason why, in South Africa, we put the date of the 9th of August on such a high pedastal. They reminded me of the women who boldly marched to the union buildings in 1956, to protest Apartheid pass laws for black women.
These four heroines captured the spirit of all the women who marched to Pretoria that day. Standing united, against the South African rape culture and in support of now deceased “Khwezi, and all women who were raped and never saw justice” – according to one of the protesters.
I recently revisited the story of Khwezi, through an interview between Eusebius McKaiser and Redi Tlhabi in 2017, via a podcast, about her book Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.
Personally, I haven’t read the book. But just by listening to that interview, I felt so troubled and pained by Khwezi’s ordeal throughout her rape trail.
The most prevalent thing that stood out in the interview for me, and I suppose one of the themes in the book, is – what one of the callers mentioned as – “secondary abuse”. A story of how, “In a rape trial, the victim is as much on trial as the perpetrator.”, according to a passage that was read out from the book.
Khwezi’s story is by far, one of the saddest stories of our democracy. It speaks on the abuse of power in our country’s justice system and our societal prejudices towards rape culture. It is basically the link between a patriarchal system’s approach to women abuse. Which is something that’s highlighted as one of the themes In the book.
4. Rebel with a cause #Fierce
“I will fight, no matter what the circumstance.”
No, that’s not what anyone said, It’s just what comes to my mind when I think of Masechaba Ndlovu. Show me a woman more feisty and fearless than her in the South African media industry. I’ll wait.
She is a volcano waiting to erupt and cause havoc, and not in any negative way. She’s just not one to be messed with.
Her fighter spirit takes me back to a meeting I recently attended. Where the ‘misrepresentation of woman in leadership positions’ came to light. It was made mention that one of the reasons for this misrepresentation, is the fact that women tend to shy away from environments where they are required to take the podium and lead.
According to the experiences of the people who brought this up, women – just judging by their approach to leadership positions – tend to shy away and in-effect, be led. This is just a general perception, nothing to be taken by the books. And whether true or not, it did make sense and a point on which to ponder.
Then there are women like Masechaba Ndlovu. Whose #unfuckwithable spirit makes a joke out of such general perceptions (I thought). In more ways than one, she has proven herself to be a leader who stands for what she believes in, no matter what the backlash or circumstance.
I personally may not have completely agreed with her approach, with the Babes Wodumo and Mampintsha drama, but I will reserve my opinion on that. Simply because on a broader spectrum of things – she was fighting for a cause even greater than those two individuals.
I’m saying this from a point where, as a child: you stood and watched your parent being beaten to a pulp; feeling helpless and confused – a Masechaba in that situation, would’ve been a voice to the voiceless. So based on that alone, my opinion on her approach is null and void.
And more than anything, I loved what this One in Nine representative said at an interview about the “#RememberKhwezi” incident. Though referring to rape culture, but still otherwise relevant to violence against women, she said in dealing with sexual violence: “We need to be inappropriate. We need to make our point in whichever way feels good and true to us. There’s no right place to talk about rape and sexual violence, because there’s never a right time to rape or sexually violate someone.” I felt this.
5. I may be Little, but I got big dreams #Confident
“So now, who gon’ check me boo?”
Well we are definitely eager to check history unfolding as a young black woman will be – at 14 years old – breaking a record as the youngest film executive producer in the history of filmmaking.
Yep, you read right, 14 years old. Marsai Martin of Black-ish fame will not only star, but is also said to be executive producing Little, a film that she pitched at just 11 years old, this coming April. Talk about history in the making!
We stan a young Queen pushing boundaries. And if the trailer is anything to go by, it is definitely NOT one to miss.
Who else do you think is #unfuckwithable? Leave a comment below!
Cover image: Chelsi Peter via Pexels.
Zulaikha Patel: image sourced through Twitter via hashtags #ZulaikhaPatel
Cheryl Zondi: SABC News
#RememberKhwezi: The Daily Vox
Masechaba Ndlovu: All4Women
Marsai Martin: Facebook (Riya Jama)