Miscellaneous Items

from 2015

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The onslaught of life

– Evita Bezuidenhout, Daily News, 7 August 2015

It is hard work being called the most famous white woman in South Africa. And yet, I can remember being brought up to be grateful for the education I was given, the chances I was allowed to dream about and make sure that everything was focused on the great prize: my future husband. I did all that and I’m still here.

As I sail into my 80th year, still with a 12-year-old heart beating with excitement, I realise that no education could have prepared me for this moment. No hobby or interest could have armed me against this total onslaught of life, and no husband would protect me from a world outside and the turmoil within.

So I am irritated by a Women’s Day and a Women’s Month. We don’t have the luxury of enjoying those 31 days in August, or that dreaded 9th of the month because we are busy working for a future.

Yes, we try to show how happy we are, because hopefully some of the world out there will then take notice of our smiles. Yes, we keep trying to remind a watching public that there are issues that we also need the world to act on.

Government notices us during August and if we believed their promises could come true, our world would be a happier place. By now we know that most of it is just an attractive shop window filled with products that are sold on our tears and pain. Money is collected to prevent more unhappiness – somewhere.

We are grateful, natuurlik! We look forward to the resulting changes in our lives. We also have urgent ideas to contribute. We just hope someone will listen to us once this month of August is over.

Our inspirations are those “Extraordinary Women” who are regarded as leaders and mentors living on the clouds of magic.

Fame often leads the way, from Angelina Jolie to Angela Merkel. .

I grieve for the desperate Somali refugees trying not to drown at sea. The slaughter of that old lion makes me cry: Je suis Cecil! A brave public protector confronting the charge of the Nkandla brigade fills me with pride.

I look at a magazine and the glowing beauty of Caitlyn Jenner stares back at me. And yet there is something about her that bothers me, but I can’t put my finger on it.

There are more women in our nation than men and in spite of a constitution that protects us, some of us are more frightened than ever before.

The trouble is we can’t compete with the symbol of what we are meant to be.

Extraordinary is a word often used to describe a successful woman. And yet every day I meet women who change the world around them without fame or fortune.

No one photoshops them. No house of fashion gives them gowns. They are seldom reflected on our small screens in soaps or dramas. There is seldom a red carpet for these women to walk along, seldom a spotlight for selfies and snaps, seldom a special day for them to kick off their shoes and just relax because someone else will do the chores.

They are the mothers who work all day to put their children through an education while fetching water from a tap on the hill. The gogos who protect their small offspring against the poverty and violence that threaten lives and limbs.

And the daughter who tries to finish school while being mummy and ouma to others who have no one. The working women who scarcely take home enough cash to treat their family to a fresh meal. The retired teacher who spends her days sharing her experience of information with whoever needs to make sense of an alphabet.

And the so-called disabled women who use their disabilities to prove that the truly disabled ones are us who have forgotten how to use our abilities to enrich lives and encourage hope.

These citizens don’t have time to celebrate Women’s Day. They are just the millions of ordinary women doing extraordinary things, for whom every day is the first day of the rest of their lives.

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