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7 Times South African Women Have Made History This Century

As Women’s Month comes to a close, we look back at just a few of the glass ceilings shattered in South Africa since the 1956 Women's March.

Throughout August, South Africa celebrated 60 years since Charlotte Maxeke, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and many other fierce activists led a march of over 20 000 women to the Union Buildings in protest against the use of passes by women. Here at Okayafrica, we've been reflecting on the achievements of phenomenal black women, like these eight writers who changed South Africa's literary game.


As Women’s Month comes to a close, we look back at just a few more of the glass ceilings shattered since the 1956 Women's March. Below, we reflect on seven times South African women have already made history this century.

Ferial Haffajee Becomes the First Woman to Edit a Major South African Newspaper

Year: 2004

South Africa’s print media, as with many other industries, has long been dominated by men. The 2004 appointment of Ferial Haffajee, then 36, as the first woman to edit a major South African newspaper was a tremendous milestone for women in the newsroom.

“As a female editor, in South Africa, I will bring a different touch to the M&G. I will want to use our investigative resources to look at some pretty serious gender problems we have - like the rate of rape and the rate of sexual violence,” Haffajee told AllAfrica at the time of her appointment as the editorial head of Mail and Guardian. “I hope that we will be able to profile the many young, black or coloured women who are coming up through the ranks, be able to show a different form of leadership in the way that I represent, I think, a different shape of leadership.”

After leaving Mail and Guardian in 2009, Haffajee joined City Press as Editor-in-Chief. She resigned from the post in July. Next up for Haffajee? She'll join the business news publisher Bloomberg as a writer beginning in September.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Becomes South Africa's First Female Deputy President

Year: 2005

After being implicated in corruption with his financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, Jacob Zuma was axed as the deputy president by former president, Thabo Mbeki, in 2005. It came as a welcomed surprise when Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, then 50, was appointed as the country's first female deputy president.

Although women had been an integral part to the struggle, Mlambo-Ngcuka’s appointment marked the first time a woman had come to occupy such a high position in government. With the dawn of a female deputy president came the hope that South Africa can one day elect a woman president. During her tenure, she oversaw programmes which were centred on poverty alleviation with a specific focus on women.

In 2013, Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed as the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. "By providing more opportunities for women…we can ensure that women can play central roles in the rebuilding of our nations,” the UN Women ED said in a statement on World Humanitarian Day this month.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Appointed African Union’s First Female Head

Year: 2012

The distinguished Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former Minister of Health and then Home Affairs, was appointed in 2012 as the first woman to chair the African Union (AU) Commission, a body focused on promoting cooperation between a number of African countries. Taking over from her predecessor Jean Ping, this was yet another significant boost to the recognition of women in senior political positions on the continent and a testament to how this would indeed be the African Women's Decade.

Under the leadership of Dlamini-Zuma, the AU declared 2015 the Year of Women's Empowerment and Development.

This year marks the end to Dlamini-Zuma's tenure at the AU and there is much speculation that she could very well become the ANC's next presidential candidate.

Thuli Madonsela Faces Off with Zuma

Year: 2014

Thuli Madonsela, an advocate and the Public Protector of the country, came under the spotlight in 2014 when she boldly stood up against corruption in light of the claims of the president having allegedly spent an unsolicited amount of R250 million on his homestead, Nkandla.

The Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, ruled in her favour, finding that the president's failure to implement the findings of her Nkandla report were “inconsistent with the Constitution,” to which Madonsela responded: "The Constitutional Court restored hope in the constitutional dream."

This year marks the end of her seven-year tenure as the Public Protector. In an August interview with Marie Claire, Madonsela opened up about her plans to take a sabbatical wherein she hopes to teach and resume practising the law and write her memoir.

Women Lead the Fees Must Fall Movement

Year: 2015

In 2015, South Africa saw its largest student uprising since 1976. Students from all over the country came together and marched to the Union Buildings protesting against the proposed fee hikes in tuition at universities that threatened to financially cripple and exclude many students. The movement was largely begun by two young women forces, Shaeera Kalla and Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, outgoing and incoming presidents of the Student Representative Council (SRC) respectively at Wits University. As with the march 60 years ago, the spirit of Imbokodo Lead, women taking front and centre, was alive in our young women and saw the president agreeing to a 0 percent increase in fees.

Sizakele Mzimela Becomes the First Black Woman to Launch an Airline

Year: 2015

Sizakele Mzimela, then 49, smashed the aviation ceiling last year when she became the first black woman to establish an airline. The former South African Airways (SAA) CEO made history in 2015 when she co-founded Fly Blue Crane and went on to launch the airline's first international flight earlier this year. Mzimela has broken through some of the boundaries and barriers which often impede the road to success of many women, especially black women.

Asked to offer some advice to women in an interview with Runway Girl Network, Mzimela shared, "Understand that we [women] just have to work harder. It’s unfair, but you spend less time complaining and more time finding a way to move on and break through regardless of the difficulties."

Caster Semenya Wins Gold at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics

Year: 2016

After a lengthy break from the track, Caster returned to fly the South African flag high in Rio this month. The 25-year-old middle-distance star breezed past Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui into first in the final of the women's 800m, making her the first black South African woman in history to win an Olympic gold medal.

In the face of snide and underhanded responses from competing athletes, Semenya remained gracious and South Africans continued to fiercely defend against attacks on the Olympic champion.

Semenya herself later took to social media to thank South Africa for their continued support. "Thank you everyone for supporting me throughout the championship, for showinme love and for believing in me. To my fellow South Africans. Here is our medal. We made it," she said.

Rufaro Samanga is an intellectual, aspiring literary great, feminist and most importantly, a fiercely passionate African.

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OkayAfrica and B4Bonah Share New 'B4Beginning' Capsule Collection

We've teamed up with the Ghanaian artist ahead of the release of his debut project for some colorful new merch.

Rising Ghanaian star B4Bonah, premieres his catchy debut track "See Body," and to mark the song's release, OkayAfrica has teamed up with the artist to share a new collection of tees, that'll fit nicely into your summer wardrobe.

The artist's latest track is a party jam, that sees him flowing "over an earworm flute melody and afrobeats percussion," using "his rasping flow to celebrate the girl of his dreams." The track was produced by J.Rocs.

B4Bonah - See Body www.youtube.com

In conjunction with the song's release, two new shirt designs are available for preorder at our Okayshop. The vibrant shirts feature the artist's image on colorful blue and green colored blocks, with the words "B4BONAH B4BEGINNING," on the back—referencing the artist's debut mixtape, which is slated for release in late July. The project features Medikal, Mugeez (R2Bees), Amaarae & Ivy Sole.


B4Bonah is an artist to watch, as he continues to make his presence known in the Ghanaian music scene.

Watch the music video for "See Body" above, and head to shop.okayplayer.com now to pick up to pre-order a shirt (or two). You can also preorder B4Bonah's B4beginning mixtape here.

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Watch EL, Joey B and Falz' New Video for 'Ehua'

Ghana meets Nigeria in this hilarious new clip.

Ghanaian rappers EL and Joey B connect with Nigeria's Falz for this addictive new collaboration and music video for "Ehua."

"Ehua" is built on energetic afro-electronic beat work produced by EL himself. Joey B handles the hook while Falz kicks things off early with a solid verse.

The eye-catching and hilarious music video for the single, directed by Yaw Skyface, features EL as a policeman, Falz as the 'oga' bossman, and Joey B as a worker for the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

Falz takes Joey B's woman by showing off his money and status, so Joey B enlists policeman EL to get back at Falz. The plan backfires however as the officer decides to stick around and party with the rich instead of helping the everyday worker out.

For more GH hits check out our Best Ghanaian Songs of the Month roundups and follow our GHANA WAVE playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Watch the new music video for EL, Joey B and Falz' "Ehua" below.

EL ft Joey B & Falz - Ehua (Official Video) youtu.be


News Brief
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Nigeria's Super Falcons Were Forced To Threaten a Sit-In Protest Over Unpaid Bonuses After Women's World Cup

After negotiations, the Nigerian Football Federation have agreed to run the players their money.

Nigeria's own Super Falcons had a great run during the Women's World Cup. But instead of the players heading back home or to their respective professional clubs after losing to Germany 3-0, they were forced to strong-arm the Nigerian Football Federation to pay what they're owed.

According to ESPN's initial report over the weekend, the Super Falcons threatened to stage a sit-in protest at their hotel in France until all of their unpaid bonuses dating back to two years ago were paid, along with their World Cup allowances and bonuses.

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