Sandisandi Swana is a teacher at a school in the Eastern Cape. At 56, she’s never been married, nor does she have any desire to do so. Born in the Sixties, when women were expected to get married and have children, she’s a rare breed who’s forged her own path, despite criticism from those around her. Her reason? The freedom to live her life fully.
“When you meet married people, they’re always complaining that you’re free. You eat what you like, go where you like and do what you like, without anyone deciding for you,” she says happily.
It’s often assumed that every little girl spent her childhood dreaming of her wedding day. Magazines are full of stories about fairytale weddings. Even in this day and age of gender equality and women’s liberation, it’s still difficult to imagine that not everyone dreams of walking out of a church wrapped in a bundle of taffeta and having rice poured over their heads.
Swana says that despite what people have said to her, she’s determined not to make a choice to please and placate strangers.
“People ask me: ‘Why don’t you get married? Because you are beautiful; you are professional – I always tell them that I’m happy in this space right now,” she explains.
Shonda Rhimes and Oprah Winfrey are two high-profile women who’ve decided that marriage isn’t for them. Far from being a pair of spinsters, the two are successful in their own right. One owns a media empire and the other has taken over prime-time viewing.
Rhimes has spoken out candidly about her decision not to get married. Speaking during an interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, Rhimes says her decision felt freeing.
“I knew, I’ve always known, but I was finally able to stand up and say: ‘I don’t want to get married’,” she said.
Oprah agreed: “What I realised is, I don’t want to be married. Because I couldn’t have the life that I’ve created for myself… I knew that I couldn’t do it.”
Some women find the ticking of their biological clocks too loud to ignore and get married to avoid being “left on the shelf”.
One such woman is 52-year-old Ndikazi Nkonzo, who was married for eighteen years and is now divorced. Ten yours after leaving her cheating spouse, she says that she wishes she knew that she could just be alone.
“I now have independence and I’m enjoying it. It’s tough if you only enjoy it when you’re older and not while you’re young. I see other single parents who were never married and they’re happier and progressive then those who were,” she says.
Nkonzo says that if she had the chance to do it all over again, she would never have gotten married in the first place. Right now, her life is going really well and she sees a lot of progress in the direction her life.
“If I had the chance to go back, I wouldn’t get married because life is better for a woman on her own,” she concludes.