THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 19th April 2006
4/21/2012 12:30:02 PM -
Nnoseng Ellen Kuzwayo, teacher, social worker, writer and political activist, died in Soweto, South Africa aged 91.
Kuzwayo was born on 29th June 1914 and was introduced to political activism from early childhood. Her maternal grandfather, Jeremiah Makgothi, was secretary of the South African Native National Congress in the Orange Free State, forerunner of the African National Congress (ANC). Her father, Philip Merafe, was also a prominent ANC activist.
Kuzwayo initially trained as a teacher, graduating in 1936. However, by 1952 she had abandoned her first choice career as she could not bear to teach the government imposed inferior education that African children were to be subjected to following the introduction of the Bantu Education Act.
Kuzwayo retrained as a social worker and used this to spearhead community organisation directed at women, refusing to curtail her political activity by working for agencies set up by the apartheid regime.
In 1974 Kuzwayo had the 6,000 family farm she had inherited seized as part of the apartheid regime's policy of allocating land in many areas for white ownership only.
After the Soweto uprising local residents chose Kuzwayo and nine men to form a ten person committee to informally govern Soweto as they did not trust the Urban Bantu Council appointment by the regime. This led to Kuzwayo being detained without trail for five months under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Motivated to narrate the experience of the African woman Kuzwayo wrote her autobiography "Call Me Woman" published in 1985. Kuzwayo was elected as an ANC member of Parliament in 1994, at the aged of 79.
The following video features a short clip of an interview with Ellen Kuzwayo
"Always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children." Amilcar Cabral