Over the past eight decades the people of South Africa, led by progressive mass democratic movements, have been united in the fight against oppression and exploitation by the apartheid government and capitalist bosses. At some stages this struggle involved brave women, most notable the women of August 1956. Hence, every year we commemorate the efforts made by these women.
The 1994 strategic democratic breakthrough has changed our focus in terms of the revolution. The focus now is to liberate our people from economic bondage and fight against the barbaric system of capitalism and unite to bridge class divides in particular, addressing the issue of hunger and starvation.
The focus of revolutionaries now should be to educate our people about land; that land is life. What is most important about land is that it is an expression of our existence and is integral to our ecosystem on which we survive as a species – the water, seeds, plants and animals. Our culture and humanity is deeply rooted in the land and how we use it for the working restoration of our dignity and hope. Yet for the capitalist the one consideration is profit, usually at the detriment of humanity.
The global food and energy crisis, especially the damage of the ozone layer, are all mostly the creation of the capitalist, yet the poor, especially the rural women who are producers of food and the guardian of life have empty plates and go to bed hungry.
Itireleng Development and Education Project recently launched a massive campaign to fight against the use of genetically modified food and inorganic farming. The campaign was launched on 14 May 2010 in Ramodumo Village, Mopani Diustrict Municipality, Limpopo Province. The launch was mostly attended by rural women who are part of the Mopani Farmers Union. The focus of the campaign is to mobilise, in particular rural women, as they are the main producers of food for sustainable agriculture. From the launching event farmers agreed on the usage of natural seeds, most interesting for me as a young person, was to learn about the indigenous way of storing seed and the cultural way of controlling weeds, pests and diseases. These cultural systems are unpopular in this era chemical farming and are eroded away by trans-national companies. In every farmers gathering in our area the issue of organic farming dominates and farmers are becoming more interested by the day.
Considering all the challenges, we are facing, we should all as progressive forces work towards consolidating rural women movements and build other movements where they are lacking. These rural women movements should break the silence on economic bondage and all forms of cultural and religious practices that oppress women. These movements must educate the society to take care of the land, the seeds and our environment and furthermore lobby policies that are user friendly to the mother earth.