chapter  17
12 Pages

Women and Politics: The Wars for National Liberation

ByCatherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

The three largest cities in the country, Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town, were those in which the numbers of African women were proportionately the lowest. On the Bantustans the opposite was true, especially for women between fifteen and sixty. Yet politics were forged in the cities, and black civil rights struggles developed in the cities. Thus one can understand why women's politicization took a long time to begin. The young women with little or no education, hardly politicized to start with and often from very religious families, got their training "in the field" and became formidable leaders. Since the war, black women had understood that much or their vulnerability stemmed from a lack of political rights. Women played an important role in the liberation wars during the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya, in the Portuguese colonies, and in Zimbabwe and Namibia. In Namibia, however, women advanced very quickly, as they did in South Africa, especially after World War II.