The rural women of Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal played a huge role in the struggle against apartheid, but their stories were never told or documented.
So the department of arts, culture and tourism has donated R100 000 for a book to be written about how they mobilised and joined the late Margret Mncwadi to fight against the pass laws and rampant abuse by white farm owners.
On October 9 1959 more than 500 women marched to the magistrates' court and demanded to speak to the magistrate after they had earlier submitted a list of grievances.
They expressed concern about the abuse of their children, who were made to work on farms and were deprived of an education.
They also protested against the low salaries paid to women and men working on farms.
During the protest the women were arrested and jailed for three months before traditional leaders raised enough money to pay an attorney to get them out on bail.
Some of the women were pregnant and one of them gave birth in prison.
In celebrating the role played by these women, the department of finance and commercial development and the department of arts, culture and tourism honoured them at a ceremony in the KwaNokweja area on Saturday.
Mafosi Ntenza, 89, was one of the women who lived with Mncwadi.
Sitting in a wheelchair, she could not hide her happiness.
"The children of today are very lucky to be brought up in a democratic country full of opportunities, and the clever ones are taking advantage of that by making education their number one priority," Ntenza said.
Finance and economic development MEC Zweli Mkhize presented the grannies with blankets designed in the colours of the South African flag.
lMncwadi was the first president of the ANC Women's League and her resistance against oppressive apartheid laws landed her in exile in Swaziland.
One of the busiest streets in the Durban CBD, formerly known as Victoria Embankment, was recently named after her.
When she arrived in the little town of Ixopo, she was very disturbed to see the oppression that black women were subjected to.