|Mrs. Albertina Sisulu, 1918 - 2011 |
Source: AP via bbc.co.uk
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.