9th August is a public holiday, in South Africa, where the nation celebrates women’s courage and strength.
Tomorrow we will remember our founder, Miss Patti Price. In 1966, following the tragic deaths of fishermen off Still Bay, she embarked on a letter writing campaign, through the press, campaigning for a dedicated rescue service.
Patti Price was a school teacher and swimming teacher in Simon’s Town and had been rescued as a child by the Royal National Lifeboat Institute in the UK. Thanks to her persistence, courage and strength – the NSRI was established in 1967.
Since then many strong and courageous women have made their mark at Sea Rescue as activists, fundraisers, funders, coxswains, crew, station commanders and shore controllers.
We also pause to celebrate and thank the strong women who are the mothers and wives or partners of our rescuers. Sometimes it takes as much courage to stay at home and wait for news as it does to climb into a rescue boat.
As quoted on Wikipedia:
On 9 August 1956, more than 20 000 South African women of all races staged a march on the Union Buildings in protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act of 1950, commonly referred to as the “pass laws”.
The women stood silently for 30 minutes and then started singing a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.).
In the years since, the phrase (or its latest incarnation: “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”) has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.