Reflections on Albertina Sisulu, other anti-apartheid icons

Posted on | juni 14, 2011 | No Comments

Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu (21 October 1918 - 2 June 2011)

On- by-one, the apartheid fighters are passing on and according to Nelson Mandela in his speech to Nontsikelelo Albertino, the wife of Walter Sisulu, he could imagine Albertino meeting other comrades who had gone before her like her husband, former anti-apartheid politician Oliver Tambo and former activist Helen Joseph.

Indeed, that would be a great celestial reunion as they would rejoice that in their lifetime they succeeded in fighting a course they believed in and they equally won.

Albertina Sisulu died aged 92 as he watched TV at home last Thursday night.

After the end of apartheid, she was elected to the first democratic parliament in1994 but after serving for four years, she retired.

Albertina a nurse and a midwife served as the deputy president of the ANC Women’s League and participated in the formation of the United Democratic Front, the 1956 anti-pass march to the Union Buildings and the launch of the Freedom Charter.

She was called, “Mother of the Nation” because of a maternal characteristics she developed early in life and brought to bear throughout the fight against apartheid. At a young age, her mother was sickly and being the eldest of eight girls, she took over the responsibility of catering for her siblings and this sacrifice made her stay two years behind in school as she had to drop often to take up employments.

The leadership qualities and maternal instincts she developed thereof underlined the respect she earned during the struggle.

She excelled at school in cultural and sporting activities and displayed headship skills at an early age when she was chosen as head girl in standard five.

After some years of excellent high school performance and even scholarship to college, she graduated and later met Walter Sisulu, a lawyer in 1941 while working at Johannesburg General Hospital as nurse when the later was a young political activist.

During their marriage in in 1944 Nelson Mandela was the best man.

Her husband, who died in 2003, spent 25 years in custody on Robben Island together with Nelson Mandela. She was successively in and out of jail for her political activities despite this, she continued to resist apartheid.

The fight against apartheid is the highest struggle by African nationalists after that of independence but it was more spirited than the later.

Looking at the continent now, it seems not as if the nationalists had ever succeeded against such past phenomena that looked very overbearing. Why, because poverty and several other pandemics are still endemic on the continent and poor governance is still here with us.

If Africa must move ahead and conquer these, we need a renewed patriotism by some younger minds to fight off, poverty and even neo-colonialism with the same vigour with which Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, the Sisulus brawled against apartheid and colonialism.

Let us not rest on our oars thinking that the war is over because, there are more wars to be fought than the ones that have been fought.

AUTHOR: Paul Ohia
URL: and
E-MAIL: paulohia [at]


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