Caucus wishes Albertina Sisulu well on her birthday

21 October 2010

Today`s fortnightly meeting of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus, which is attended by our public representatives in the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces and the Executive, marked the 92 birthday of Mama-Albertina Sisulu, one of the anti-apartheid struggle veterans and former MP.

Born Nontsikelelo Thethiwe in Transkei on 21 October 1918, Ma-Sisulu remains one of the county`s most revered women liberation struggle icons. A nurse by profession, she is a founder member of the Federation of South African Women, leader of the United Democratic Front, and member of the National Executive Committees of both the ANC and the ANC Women`s League. She also co-founded the National Children`s Rights Committee in the 1980s against the harassment and abuse of children and women.

A profoundly strong and resilient activist, Sisulu`s life embodies the hardships and brutality women endured in the apartheid South Africa. She was arrested a number of times, sentenced to house arrest while her husband, the late stalwart and ANC leader Walter Sisulu, and some of her children, were arrested and banished. She endured the worst brutality of the oppressive regime.

Reflecting on her years of hardships during the struggle, Ma-Sisulu once recalled painfully: "Over the years I got used to prison, banning and detention. I did not mind going to jail myself and I had to learn to cope without Walter. But when my children went to jail, I felt that the Boers were breaking me at the knees".

Paying tribute to her life during the meeting, veteran struggle stalwart and ex Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni, sent MPs into rapturous laughter when he recalled why the apartheid authorities declined a request by him and his fellow younger prisoners at Robben Island to have Walter Sisulu released, due to his old age. "They said that comrade Walter was a very good man, but the problem is his wife, Albertina. That`s why comrade Walter was not released”.

The nation is indeed fortunate to continue to have within its midst great South Africans of the calibre of Ma-Sisulu. As the movement we shall continue to tap into their wealth of wisdom as we continue to build a democratic and prosperous nation.

We wish her a wonderful 92nd birthday and many more years to come.

Issued by
The Office of the ANC Chief Whip
ANC Parliamentary Caucus
Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
Cape Town

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