Albertina Sisulu's Legacy

©Eric Miller
Albertina Sisulu, affectionately called the Mother of the Nation or Ma Sisulu, is best known for being a South African anti-apartheid activist and the wife of fellow activist, Walter Sisulu.

She is known for her leadership ability and maternal power that took her from humble beginnings in the Transkei to being one of South Africa’s most respected and influential icons. Maintaining her quiet and unassuming nature while also being strong and resilient through years of persecution makes her an extraordinary women worth celebrating.

Former president Jacob Zuma described her as 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 democratic South Africa’.

Sisulu once relayed a memory of a school teacher who told her; “Your behaviour is the best teacher. It is more powerful than anything you say”. Judging from the behaviour of Sisulu, it is not surprising to hear that these words inspired her.

Her legacy lies in the product of a long and difficult struggle. She holds a special place of honour among South Africa’s leaders. At the forefront of the struggle, she and her family suffered persecution at the hands of the racist apartheid regime. Through it all she remained committed and refused to be intimidated, unfaltering in her cause for a liberated and non-racial country.

“Try as they might, they could not break her spirit, they could not make her bitter, they could not defeat her love” - Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Albertina and Walter Sisulu

Albertina Thethiwe first met Walter Sisulu when she was working at Johannesburg General Hospital in 1941. He was a young political activist...more

Albertina Sisulu - Extra-Political Activities

During the 1950’s Albertina became an important part of the Federation of South African Women. She was at the forefront in fighting against gender suppression...more

Albertina Sisulu - Honoured for Years of Service

Albertina Sisulu is one of the most respected figures in South Africa’s history. She has received numerous honours for her service...more

Albertina Sisulu - Mother of the Nation

After Albertina married Walter she was submerged in his political passions. When he went underground to head Umkhonto we Sizwe...more

Albertina Sisulu - The Life of an Icon

Nontsikelelo Thethiwe was born to Bonilizwe and Monikazi Thethiwe on 21 October 1918, in the Tsomo district of the Transkei in the Eastern Cape, South Africa....more

Albertina Sisulu - Work for a Liberated South Africa

Albertina Sisulu was not involved in politics until she met Walter in 1941. Even then, she only attended meetings as a support to him. When they got married, former president Nelson Mandela told her,...more