Albertina Sisulu's Legacy

©Eric Miller
Portrait of Albertina Sisulu.

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 woman 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.

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