Saturday, June 11, 2011

Death of an Iconic Activist and Matriarch: Albertina Sisulu (21 October 1918 - 2 June 2011)

Mrs. Albertina Sisulu, 1918 - 2011
Source: AP via 
It was with great sadness that I learnt that on  2 June 2011, Mrs. Albertina Sisulu, wife of the late South African anti-apartheid activist Walter Sisulu, passed away at the age of 92. In the dying days of apartheid in the mid-90s, I had the priviledge of hearing Mrs. Sisulu speak at my school in Swaziland. To a packed auditorium, she addressed the audience with a written speech which she read. I remember it being quite formal and not too inspiring. At the end, she folded the speech, put away her reading glasses and proceeded to completely blow our minds with a powerful, unscripted talk. We were left in awe and spell-bound. Although her exact words are now a distant memory, I do recall a heartfelt, rousing account of her experiences in the fight against institutionalized racism in South Africa. Like many wives of jailed anti-apartheid leaders of the time, circumstances forced her into the role of leadership of the struggle and at the same time being primary caretaker of her family. She rose to the challenges with strength, humility and selflessness. 

From the brief encounter with Mrs. Sisulu that evening, we not only gained insight into this anti-apartheid stalwart and iconic activist but were truly inspired by her words. To quote South African President Jacob Zuma on her passing: 

 "Mama Sisulu has over the decades been a pillar of strength not only for the Sisulu family but also the entire liberation Movement as she reared, counselled, nursed and educated most of the leaders and founders of the democratic South Africa" 

May Mrs. Sisulu's  soul rest in peace and may her legacy continue to be a source of inspiration for future generations of South Africans and Africans.


Maya Mame said...

Thanks for highlighting the life of a woman who's practically unknown to me. It is always inspiring to hear of strong women. Far too often they are shadowed by their more famous husbands.

Abena Serwaa said...

Thanks Maya Mame! Strong, selfless women are always an inspiration to me..Very true how they are often eclipsed by their more famous husbands but are also often the driving force behind these spouses.

Nana said...

Well done on documenting Albertina Sisulu's life. I almost feel that as 'younger' women we have a responsibility to document (in a variety of ways - blogs, books, videos, audios etc) the lives of inspirational older women who often pass with little or no recognition of their life and work. Ayeekoo Abena!

Abena Serwaa said...

Thanks Nana for stopping by and your words of encouragement! You are absolutely right..we should do more to highlight the work of these often unsung inspirational women...