Thinking about International Women’s Day


I was watching, doubtless as we all were, President Ramaphosa as he used his iPad typing as opponents responded to his epic SONA talk.  The opposition loved him, but could not say it! I have to confess, that I, during SONA posted in drunken joy on my Facebook wall that “I feel honestly excited. I feel like a kid. It seems like 1994 all over again.” The previous time that I got drunk was when the Buccaneers won the league because I feared it will never happen again!

At some point the attentive and respectful Ramaphosa abandoned his iPad to start writing. I was bemused. As an ICT person I was puzzled, yet as a traditionalist I was delighted!

Around this point, Anelita Njili the very able Xhosa lady from the Eastern Cape, my Public Relations intern at the Durban University of Technology, charged into my office to remind me I had several papers to write including this column and that TV was not on my diary. President Ramaphosa, you may well run the country, but my office is sovereign property of Anelita.

I plaintively tried to remind Anelita that on Friday, the President went on and on and said, “I wanna … We gonna, I wanna… even volunteering, with a Send Me.” Yet, far from ridiculing him, we as a nation actually not only believed but bought into his narrative. The joy and ecstasy of #SONA, on social media, and in individual homes and family remains palpable. And that he spoke about women. Therefore, by watching TV I was in fact supporting her and women. Anelita rebutted, “If you follow his logic, then get this column out there.” Eish!

Let me be clear, I am terrified of this young lady – she is so super-efficient – that she rules me by missed calls! Linger over lunch. Missed Call. Over-sleep. Missed call. Take too long in a meeting. Missed call. Be late for my kids?  Eish, I get a dark SMS, a terse phone call, later a threatening email, and then that look when I return to my office.

About Ramaphosa and women? “Precisely”, she enjoined “you may very well know the ‘gogos’ (older women) from the Kliptown days, given your age. We are not only ready, Dr Thakur, we have always been ready. And yes, able.”

Now is our time to wanna lend a hand. Take a lady intern – choose as you will. You will have another lady in your life. And nothing beats that feeling.

I survey the women around me …they really do run the country. My dad passed away when I was 6. My illiterate mother grew her 5 school going kids. She faced a reality called life and fought it for her kids. My wife runs the house, while a full-time post-graduate student. This is not about gender equality but gender facts.

This year, we also celebrate the centenary of another giant of our struggle, Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu. As we mark her centenary birthday, it is reaffirmed that no liberation can be complete and no nation can be free until its women are free.

Through measures like preferential procurement and the black industrialists programme, the country can and is developing a new generation of black women professionals that are able to build enterprises of significant scale and capability. To make it work further, we need to entrust them with work.

I took her because having interns around you, keeps you young at heart, while their refreshing naiveté challenges your decisions.  Their ‘Mara why’ moments, will have you in stitches as you try to explain even defend some foolish decisions that you may have made.

 To the ladies in our Lives, it should always be a “Happy Women’s Day.”

Dr Colin Thakur is a digital activist who is committed to the dream of “one person, one connected device.” He is the KZN e-Skills CoLab Director, located at the Durban University of Technology. His areas of research include e-democracy, Social media, and unstructured big data.