Nzimande fondly remembers ‘very caring’ mother

2017-06-14 13:45
Nozipho Nzimande (90), who lived in Dambuza in Edendale, died on Sunday.

Nozipho Nzimande (90), who lived in Dambuza in Edendale, died on Sunday. (Supplied)

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Tributes are pouring in following the death of Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande’s mother.

Nozipho Nzimande (90) died on Sunday following a short illness. Mama Nzimande, as she was affectionately known, was living in Dambuza but was originally from the Eastern Cape.

Speaking to The Witness, Nzimande said his mother had trained at the All Saints Teachers’ College in Engcobo Village and started teaching in 1948.

“She was a teacher for just over a decade. She came to Pietermaritzburg in 1952 to join her mother ‘MaRadebe’ who had settled in Dambuza and they were the first teachers who opened Mthethomusha Primary School in 1956. In 1959 she got married to my father, Phillip Nzimande.”

Mama Nzimande’s employment as a teacher was terminated by the apartheid government after she got married.

“In 1959 they terminated her services because once black women were married they got retrenched and became temporary teachers. The assumption was the government didn’t want to pay [for] maternity leave.”

In the early 1960s Mama Nzimande was hired as a nursing assistant by the apartheid government. In her youth Mama Nzimande had wanted to go to Fort Hare.

“Her family was poor and all she could get was a sponsorship to study teaching and she never had a chance to go to Fort Hare. She took a vow that when she had children they will go to university. I am a beneficiary of her determination,” said Nzimande.

Nzimande said his mother had borrowed money from a loan shark to pay for his first year of study in 1976.

“It took her almost the whole year to pay that money back. She went back again to get another loan to pay for my education in 1977.

“As her eldest son she used to talk to me and say never sell your dignity. Your dignity is valueless; you can’t put money on it. Secondly, as a staunch Christian she told me to be careful about money because it was the source of all evil. She was a very caring mother.” Nzimande praised his mother for supporting him and understanding his involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle.

“I remember a time in 1982 when we organised a bus boycott in Pietermaritzburg and I was detained for six to eight hours. She asked someone to drive my car and look for me in virtually all the police stations in Maritzburg. Ultimately in the evening when I was released she broke down and cried but never deterred me from continuing with the struggle.”

Nzimande said although his mother was not a hard-core activist she always opened her home to people who were fleeing political violence in the ’80s.

She will be buried on Saturday.


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