Paying tribute to the heroic 1956 marchers

The Albertina Sisulu Centenary seeks to collate accounts of the participants.

THE 9 August 1956 marks a watershed moment in South Africa’s struggle for freedom and women’s rights when women of all races marched to the Union Buildings against laws compelling black African women to carry passbooks.

This year marks the Albertina Sisulu Centenary and one of the activities commemorating the occasion is The Marchers project, which aims to elevate and amplify the voices of the women who participated in the historic event. The Albertina Sisulu Centenary is looking to gather the stories of the women who marched on the Union Buildings that day to tell the story from their perspective.

‘The Marchers’ as the project has dubbed them, will be interviewed for the purposes of creating a documentary in their honour. Where the original marchers have passed away, members of their families and communities with whom they shared their stories with, are invited to participate in their stead.

“The Marchers came from all walks of society, from all over the country. The common thread that bound them was their unshakeable belief, in the face of an oppressive and ruthless regime, that they could actually change this country. Their voices and impressions of the day represent an important part of our nation’s history, and we invite them to come forward so we can capture these testimonies. These testimonies must form part of our country’s archives as the precious source material they are,” activist and author Elinor Sisulu said. 

The Marchers project will seek to collate accounts of the participants’ perspective on the March and the impact it had on their and their families lives. During this process the project will uncover the processes used to organize the march at a time when communication methods around organizing such an event had to be thorough, yet clandestine and secretive. This will also position the march as a milestone in the fight for gender equality. This content will be packaged into a documentary and shared on national television as well as social media platforms.

Members of the public who are connected to The Marchers of 1956 are requested to send their contact details with a short explanation of their testimony and involvement in the March to Marchers@Sisulu.co.za . The organisers will then coordinate with them to set up time to record their recollection of the events of that day.