Nelson Mandela Foundation

“I feel victorious that today we are celebrating 50 years of the Women’s March …”
– Mrs Bertha Gxowa, May 25, 2006


“… I pretended that I was dead as the policemen poked each body to make sure they were actually dead …” Mrs Alina Mkhwanazi (referring to Sharpeville, 1960) , May 25, 2006

The Foundation took part in the Campaign by Cell C, Take a Girl Child to Work, and hosted girls from Erasmus Monareng High School in Vosloorus. Celebrating 50 years of the 1956 Women’s March was the theme for the Campaign.

The Foundation invited Mr Peter Magubane, Mrs Bertha Gxowa (nee Mashaba) and Mrs Alina Mkhwanazi to share their experiences of the protest marches of the 1950s and 1960s with the girls. Mr Magubane, the renowned photographer who fought the struggle against apartheid “through the lens of [his] camera” took the girls through a chilling account of the events of June 16, 1976.

“Don’t ever take this hard earned freedom for granted …”
Mr Peter Magubane, May 25, 2006

Mrs Gxowa, one of the leaders of the 1956 Women’s March, took the girls through ingenious ways in which the march was organised despite limited resources available to the women. That day she said, “We saw black domestic workers joining the march with white babies strapped to their backs…later the madams in search of their babies unwittingly joined the march!” 

Mrs Mkhwanazi, a survivor of the Sharpeville Massacre, gave a harrowing account of how what started off as a peaceful protest against the Pass Laws left at least 69 people dead and scores injured. Mrs Mkhwanazi was one of those seriously injured and it took her many years to come to terms with the events of March 21, 1960 and to celebrate Human Rights Day together with other South Africans.

Bringing these remarkable individuals to share their stories with young South Africans forms part of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Memory for Justice Programme to capture the life and times of Mr Nelson Mandela and tell the stories of those who took part in the struggle against apartheid.

One of the flagship initiatives of the Memory for Justice Programme is the Madiba Legacy Series which consists of nine comic books. These books tell the story of Madiba’s life from birth until the present. To date, the Foundation has published four comic books. 

The message from all the speakers: “While we dare not forget, it is within our power to forgive those who wronged us.”