Thursday, August 9, 2007

women's day in south africa

We concern ouselves here with all things pilgrimage, so let's not overlook the August 9th celebration of Women's Day in South Africa. The day commemorates the 1956 march of 20,000 women on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest the apartheid pass laws. Now a march isn't the same as a pilgrimage, but it's another demonstration of the power, symbolic and actual, of a mass of people walking together with a common goal. Last year, to mark the 50th anniversary, the walk was restaged (aha! ritual, holy days - this is starting to sound like a pilgrimage).

The main observation this year is in Kimberley, where President Mbeki is speaking, and today's online edition of the Mail and Guardian reports that thousands of women have gathered at the stadium there, "some bussed in from as far as Pampierstad." Bussed in? They didn't walk? Well so much for symbolism. Or maybe it's just a way of saying these women have earned their seat on the bus.

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