For its 2018 National Women’s Day celebration, the South African Consulate in Nigeria honoured Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu; a political activist, a nurse and one of the important leaders of anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. Vanessa Obioha writes
She was among the women who led the 1956 women’s march in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass law. The National Women’s Day in South Africa is celebrated in honour of these heroines.
This year marks the centenary of Sisulu who was often referred to as the ‘Mother of the Nation’. She lived with the people and led them to rise against the abominable system of Apartheid and misogyny. From Cape Town, Soweto to Huhundi and Galeshewe, she was known for her warmth as a leader, whose love for freedom was unwavering.
At the cozy occasion held at Federal Palace Hotel and Casino, Victoria Island, Lagos, the Consul General, Darkey Africa told his guests of the legacy Sisulu left behind.
He said: “We learn about leadership, through her suffering, we learn about the patience of a nurse to conquer pain. We learn about her burning desire to release her people from the pain of oppression. We learn about selflessness and service to humanity.”
This legacy he later revealed has spurred younger women in South Africa today to become agents of change in the society.
“There are many young women in South Africa today who are saying they want to be like Mama Sisulu and other great women of that time. The are saying they believe in them and will represent them. So there is this acknowledgment, acceptance and of course the realisation that the effort these women put in building a society that is not sexist must not go to waste.
“They must take responsibility. We must task ourselves on how to ensure that Africa is a place where women are not subdued by culture or religion or any other thing but a place where they can explore their capabilities. Every country and continent must place conditions that will allow women to achieve all their objectives and aspirations,” he added.
But more Sisulus are needed to make the world a better place. Darkey stressed this in his closing remark. He made a call-to-action for all to emulate the life and times of Sisulu by intensifying our efforts in the society against subjugation of women.
He said: “Mama Sisulu calls on us to forever strive for this ideal, to emancipate women so that Africa can prosper. We must now begin to nurture a 100 more Albertina Sisulus. None amongst us can be her, but we can emulate her example, know her story and attempt to help humanity.”