Those whose partners had to be away from home to carry South Africa’s struggle for freedom forward were in a struggle of their own: the struggle to keep hope alive in the face of total uncertainty about the safety of their loved ones on the front lines and of the future of their families, to uplift the morale and courage of their fearful children: to keep family and home intact in the face of heavy odds.
This struggle, referred to by Professor Fatima Meer, women's leader, sociologist and author, as ‘the 'parallel struggle' of the family waged by the women and the children’ still remains largely invisible, even though President Mandela is one of the few to have acknowledged the role of the women and children of such families.
In his own words, ‘ Were it not for their selfless support when husbands and fathers were away, often in very uncertain circumstances, for their bearing with the uncertainty, for absorbing the pain of loss and the loneliness of separation, our struggle would never have stayed the course... We are indebted to Mac's wife, Zarina, and their children, Milou and Joey - and to the spouses, children and families of all comrades ... for the contribution they made, no less than ours, and the price they paid in the struggle for freedom...for future generations to go to the school of their choice, to pursue a career of their choice, to select the education they want with no boundaries to the level of success they can achieve, to marry the person they love, to live where they want, to travel freely throughout the country, to have the right to vote, to vote for the political party of their choice ...to say what they believe without fear or reprisal’.
(See President Mandela's foreword to ’ Shades of Difference - Mac Maharaj and the Struggle for South Africa by Professor Padraig O’Malley, (Penguin, 2008)).
‘Dancing to a Different Rhythm’ is Zarina's own story about this parallel, invisible struggle, both before South Africa won its freedom from apartheid in 1994, and in the ongoing struggle post-apartheid to attain the democracy envisioned by President Mandela and his co-leaders, giants whose dream for a better country for all its people is yet to be realised.