The Mercury

Gogo of the Nation

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OURSISTER newspaper, The Sunday Independen­t, published a simple but effective cartoon yesterday, paying tribute to one of the greats of a generation of anti-apartheid Struggle icons, Albertina Sisulu.

A sketch of MaSisulu’s face superimpos­ed on the South African flag was accompanie­d by the pithy message “A nation is orphaned”.

President Jacob Zuma’s decision to accord this Struggle matriarch an official category 1 funeral is a fitting one – for she was more than just an ANC icon, she was a woman who put humanity first.

As many tributes have made clear since news of her death broke on Thursday night, aged 92, MaSisulu was indeed a different breed of activist.

There was no arrogance or sense of entitlemen­t because of her surname associated with Struggle royalty that she bore.

Indeed she lived the Struggle, one of service and sacrifice, and was a powerful activist in her own right, suffering deeply because of the courage of her conviction­s.

Banned, imprisoned and hounded by the security police, she continued her political activism, at the same time fulfilling her role as a mother – raising her own children and those of others – while holding a full-time job as a nurse.

MaSisulu was instrument­al in forming the nonracial United Democratic Front and later became one of our first democratic­ally elected MPs, before retiring in 1999.

Her legacy is one that unfortunat­ely appears to be lost on some in the ANC today, including its youth league, who have been quick to forget and to defile the history of the Struggle against apartheid in this country. But there is also hope, as we see in some of her descendant­s who bear the Sisulu name.

As City Press highlighte­d yesterday, there are those like MaSisulu’s grandson Shaka who have started an organisati­on (www.cheesekids.org.za) “aimed at teaching a new generation of young and privileged people to give back by using their labour, skills, time and resources”.

It is a fitting tribute to Albertina Nontsikele­lo Sisulu and all she stood for. May she rest in peace.

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