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Celebrating Women With Monumental Strength

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Sixty two years ago, on August 9, 20,000 women of all races, classes and creed marched, singing and chanting, babies on their backs, to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital city, to deliver a petition to then Prime Minister J.G Strydom against the introduction of the apartheid pass laws.

This meant black women were not allowed in urban areas for more than 72 hours unless they possessed a pass with the holder’s details, including payment of taxes and permission to be in these urban areas. The march was led by the struggle stalwarts: Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, Sophia Williams-De Bruyn and Rahima Moosa.

“I didn’t see much of Helen Joseph at the march, she was in front of the crowd. She was a big strong woman and she led the march with other strong women. They told us that women are holding passes and if we don’t demonstrate against [the government], we [too will one day end up] holding these passes,” recollects Ramnie Naidoo to FORBES AFRICA. She was only was 14 years old at the time, escorting her mother at the march.

Pictured here is Helen Joseph (1905-1992), founding member of the Federation of South African Women, and Rahima Moosa (1922-1993), union activist and member of the Transvaal Indian Congress, both co-leaders of the 1956 Women’s March.

They have been immortalized in the Long March To Freedom, a procession of 100 life-sized bronzes celebrating the pioneers of South Africa’s journey to democracy, at the Fountains Recreation Resort in the City of Tshwane, Gauteng, South Africa.

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Poll Position: The South African 2019 Elections

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May 8, a landmark day for Africa’s second biggest economy. South Africans will cast their votes for the country’s sixth general elections since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

In the run-up to the polls, the country saw flagrant protests in some parts, as disgruntled citizens expressed disapproval of their stifling living conditions. 

In this image, a resident of Alexandra, a township in the north of Johannesburg, squats in the middle of a busy road leading to the opulent precincts of Sandton, Africa’s richest square mile.  

The dichotomy of socio-economic circumstances is an accelerant in one of the country’s poorest communities filled to the brim with squatter camps and the restlessness of unemployment.

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Cash, Credit And Community

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The billion-rand spaza shop (township tuckshop) industry in South Africa is not a regulated sector. Most transactions at these shops are in cash, and not electronically tracked. This makes it difficult for spaza shops to be financially credited in South Africa.

But there are now fintech solutions such as Zande Africa offering financial and distribution platforms, operating out of warehouses, to assist these spaza shops in their townships, by delivering daily necessities to them.

READ MORE: IN PICTURES | The Occupation Of Unemployment In South Africa

 In this image, Tedy Tizedo, the owner of Thandabantu, a tuckshop in Ermelo in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, pays a local Zande Africa agent for delivering bread from its distribution warehouse.

 The fintech company provides cash and credit service offerings to all spaza shop owners and creates relationships with them for better pricing and service. 

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Gathering Around The Kraal

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Men gather around a kraal in Mcwangele, a village in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Most traditional families in rural South Africa own kraals, or enclosures designated for livestock.

During ceremonies, women are traditionally not allowed inside the kraal, unless they are more mature and elderly, and on the rare occasion, selected to speak.

In this picture, a cow is confined to a kraal to observe rituals ahead of the unveiling of a tombstone (a culture practiced mostly by black South Africans). A cow is used, rather than sheep, on this occasion.

Decades ago, my great grandparents were buried in this village of their birth about 840kms from Johannesburg.

Three generations later, I am here with my family to support our grandparents who felt the need to mark their parents’ graves that had been in a dilapidated condition. 

Remembering her father, my  grandmother Dade Patricia Monnakgotla, said: “Our father, Dabula Petros Nhose, would travel regularly to Gauteng by bicycle or horse from here and it would take him about 10 days.”

The anecdotes from the older generation about a bygone era were indeed engrossing. Nhose died in 1977, while his wife, my great grandmother, Monica Chule Nhose, died in 1971.

The legacy of the Nhose clan name lives on, tattooed on my arm.

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