Thank you for being you, for not harming anyone but just for being yourself.
On Monday 28 July in Sandton City in Johannesburg South Africa, a woman stripped off her clothing and stood at the feet of the iconic Tata Nelson Mandela’s statue. A well-known South African blogger shared her viewpoint on the incident and I fully concur with her opinion, to see Ms Milli B’s interpretation, read here.
The level of sexual violence against women in South Africa is among the highest in the world. Women in South Africa of all races and social class experience unwanted sexual and physical advances on a regular basis. This is in part, why I admire the woman who- without warning, without explanation publically paraded her birthday suit. Another reason for the admiration and appreciation I have for this woman’s actions is that she did not harm a single soul (as far as we could see); she stripped naked into her natural state of being to stand at the feet of “the father of our nation, the father of our democracy”. Now- I am very aware that not a single soul knows the intent behind her actions as no one has spoken to her.
Ms Milli B in her blogpost refers to the lady as ‘Braveheart’ and I embrace this label because the lady is braver than most people I know and more so braver than any of the thousands of rapists and criminals who freely walk the streets and pavements of South Africa. ‘Braveheart’ did not mask her face like thousands of criminals who barge into our homes and violate our sanctuaries, unlike criminals who harm us physically and traumatise us psychologically and taunt us with guns and other weapons of destruction, this woman did not threaten our livelihood, this lady is brave and by not trying to conceal her identity in any way, she was not ashamed of who she is whilst conveying her ‘out of norm’ action.
‘…Women’s groups in South Africa estimate that a woman is raped every 26 seconds, the South African police estimates that a woman is raped every 36 seconds’ (Rape Crisis, 2014)
As we commence Women’s Month this August in South Africa, may we remember that for years women all over the world and increasingly women and children in South Africa have had to endure numerous injustices, forms of violence and oppression against their bodies. In solidarity with this ‘Bravehearts’ choice to strip in public as a form of protest, I am in admiration if this was a form of taking her power back. The lady peacefully went about her ‘moment’ with the statue of the late, great former President Nelson Mandela. Yes- Sandton City is privately owned property, but (the statue) Tata Mandela represents the iconic figure that is referred to as being ‘father or the nation’, Tata Mandela stood for and shared his beliefs regarding humanity on many occasions and one of the themes he spoke fondly of was that of ‘social justice’. There is nothing socially unjust that this woman committed. The statue of Tata Mandela is one where thousands of visitors (foreign and local) visit and take pictures with the statue. Instead of taking a picture with the statue, ‘Braveheart’ decided to pay homage to Tata Mandela’s statue the way she felt she needed to. And as a self-respecting, self-loving people (those of us who are), we need to respect that as people we have similarities and differences and we are bound to go about dealing with societal issues that push us to the edge in similar and differing ways.
‘Women’s Month is a tribute not only to the thousands of women who marched on that day in 1956, but also a tribute to the pioneers of the women’s movement in this country, dating back to 1913, when women like Charlotte Maxeke ,Cissy, Jaynab and Amina Gool…’(SAHO, 2014)
If it was a protest, different people protest differently,I am a huge admirer of her method. It was peaceful, it was calm and most of all it was BRAVE and it has thousands of people having meaningful discussions.
Thank you for stripping at the centre South Africa’s opulence, to have a moment at the feet of the ‘Father of our Nation’.