Feminist activism makes the world a better place for all!

I’m not a rock

I’m not a rock

By Berenice Paulse

At the total shutdown women’s march in Cape Town on 1 August 2018, women objected to a male speaker’s use of the slogan for the 1956 Women’s March to Union building ‘wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo’

I’m not a rock,

don’t call me that

wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo![1]

you have corrupted a historic call

for women’s solidarity and agency

and turned it into an excuse

to dump

your unwanted and unfunded

burdens on me

and then you say:

“Society must take responsibility”

when what you really mean is ‘me’

because I am a rock

I am your rock of ages

wathint’ abafazi every day

with your fists, your patriarchy, your corrupted leaders

and when the money is gone

you decree: “Communities must take ownership”

and we all know

what you really mean is ‘me’.

 

When the resources have been diverted,

and political will deserted,

you ask: “But where is the community?”,

when a woman is maimed

and a child brutalised

you wring your hands: “But where was the community?”

Where? Where? Where?

is that rock that never sleeps

that never tires

that gets up after every beating

your rock of ages

“Where is the community?

when you really mean is ‘me.”

 

When you call

the ‘community’ to a meeting

the stage is filled with men in suits

important men saying important things

experts on violence

experts on poverty

experts on hunger

experts on shelter

experts on clean water

experts on toilets

experts on education

experts on taxes

experts on families

experts on raising children

experts on women’s bodies

experts on how to get votes

experts on running a country

sexperts on polygamy

sexperts on gender-based violence

these are your

expertsexpertsexpertsexpertsexpertsexpertsexpertsexpertsexperts

but now it does not include ‘me’.

 

I will not be a rock

to prop you up

to lie so quietly under your feet

wathint’ abafazi every day

when you use your voice against me

when you exercise your power against me

when you raise your fist against me

when you ball your fist

so insincerely on publicity platforms

to denounce: ‘wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo!

and we all know

what you’re really doing is

building a profile

mobilising a following

establishing legitimacy

creating your constituency

canvassing enough votes

you are so industrious

working empowering slaving for the community

but this time we know

it’s not really about ‘me’.

 

[1] Translated means “you strike the woman, you strike the rock’ and was the slogan for the historic 1956 women’s marge to Union buildings in Pretoria to protest against pass laws.

 



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