Albertina Sisulu remembered

English |  
SA Government
SA News Update
The anti-apartheid stalwart and struggle icon, Mrs Mme Albertina Nontsikelelo Thethiwe Sisulu, died at the age of 92 at her home in Linden, South Africa on Thursday 02 June 2011.

A book of condolence will be opened for signature at the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa, Fleminggatan 20, 4th floor, on Monday 13 June from 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00 as well as on Tuesday 14 June from 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00.

The Life of Albertina Sisulu

She was an icon, stalwart and struggle veteran but to her family and friends, Albertina Sisulu was known as Ma' Sisulu and children were one of her passions. While her husband, Walter Sisulu, spent 20 years in jail for treason, she raised not only five of her own children but adopted her deceased sister-in-law's. During this time, she faced 17 years of continuous bans including 10 years of house arrest. She was referred to as the "Mother of the Nation", mainly because of her presence and her contribution to the liberation struggle. After her husband's death in 2003, she continued to champion the cause of the vulnerable, including children affected by Aids and those with special needs.

In 1944 she married Walter Sisulu, an ANC activist, with whom she was to have five children, Max Vuyisile, Mlungisi, Zwelakhe, Lindiwe and Nonkululeko. They were married for 59 years, until he died in his wife's arms in May 2003 at the age of 90. Albertina Sisulu started work in Johannesburg as a midwife in 1946, often walking to visit patients in townships. Political involvement was part of her life, particularly women's organisations. She joined the ANC Women's League and, when it was relaunched in 1990, she became its deputy president. She helped form the Federation of SA Women in 1954 and the following year helped launch the Freedom Charter. Mrs Sisulu opposed Bantu education, running schools from home, and marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria with 20,000 women of all races in 1956 to protest the discriminatory pass laws.

In 1983 she was elected co-president of the United Democratic Front (UDF). The same year she was charged with furthering the aims of the ANC; her conviction was overturned on appeal but she was restricted to her home under the state of emergency. In 1989 she managed to obtain a passport and led a UDF delegation overseas, meeting British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and American President George Bush Snr. In October 1989 her restrictions were lifted and the following day her husband was released from jail. In 1994, she was elected to the first democratic Parliament, which she served until retiring four years later.

In 2003, now widowed, Mrs Sisulu celebrated her 85th birthday by unveiling the plaque for a new community centre for children with special needs in Orlando West. It was mainly through her tenacity that this centre became a reality - she worked on it for 20 years. Weeks later, she and former President Mr Nelson Mandela opened the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa in Johannesburg, named for her late husband. She became a trustee for the centre and helped fundraise for it. In August 2006, Albertina Sisulu attended the 50th anniversary re-enactment of the 1956 Women's March on Pretoria.
HE Ms B S Mabandla
Head of Mission
More Information
Statistics South Africa
South Africa Reserve Bank
South African Revenue Services
Johannesburg Stock Exchange
Government Online
South African Airways
South African Tourism
National Parks of South Africa
South African Broadcasting Corporation
Consular FAQ
© South African Embassy Stockholm, Sweden| Disclaimer