The morning of 16 June 1976, a day that changed the course of South Africa’s history, to protest against apartheid and its “Bantu education” system.
Forty four years later, as South Africa remembers this significant moment, a young woman, host of #SistaHoodHour twitter chat, Mrs Phumeza Langa, reminisces on the freedom that moment afforded to her and many young South Africans. It’s her tribute to the hundreds of students who lost their lives on that fateful day.
Langa is living the legacy of the class of ’76 to speak up on issues that negatively impact women no matter the age or background.
“It serves no one to quietly watch and hope that someone else will say something or do anything, we need to be that someone who does something and use our voices to effect real change in society. That change doesn’t have to be big, it just needs to be meaningful and start a movement that encourages others to pick up the baton”, she says.
It is through the #SistaHoodHour, a weekly twitter chat on Wednesdays between 13h00 – 14h00, where Langa takes up the opportunity to speak out. The #SistaHoodHour was initially started as a platform to talk about some of the challenges women face such as relationships, self-care, questions about intimacy, marriage, having children or not, children, feminism, and more. This triggered various conversations women were already having but never with each other.
“#SistaHoodHour quickly became a platform for sharing ideas, finding solutions and recognising that no one is alone. There was a community of women I could lean on in the digital space. Over time it became a place where we got to ‘meet’ incredible women doing phenomenal work in their chosen fields, learning about each other, our challenges and how to overcome. It also allowed us to talk about the issues that affect us deeply: mental health, cyber bullying, financial wellness, reproductive and sexual health to name a few. There is a real need for meaningful inter-generational conversation in our society”.
In the words of Maya Angelou – ‘Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women’. Mrs Langa is ensuring the class of 1976 lives on.
When asked about South Africa’s agenda during its African Union (AU) Chairship on gender equality and women’s empowerment, Langa affirms that the strategy needs to move from being words and ideas on paper. “The continent needs to see the realisation of women truly taking up their place and making their voices heard. The stranglehold of patriarchy has to end for the continent to thrive. It is only through real partnership between men and women that we will see a shift in the dynamics.
When women are empowered to be economically active in their environments, it paves the way for thenext generations to see and experience life differently.
Brand South Africa’s mission is to promote positive positioning of the country where pride and patriotism are encouraged and as the country chairs the African Union, use the opportunity to create a legacy of the Africa we all want. South Africa has to lead by example in ensuring a sustainable future for Africa’s children. With dedicated young people like Mrs Phumeza Langa and the #SistaHoodHour platform, the work of Brand South Africa can be a lived reality by all.
Sithi Salute! To an Africa we want.
Photo credit: Twitter