Albertina Sisulu: In her own words

2011-06-03 15:45

Albertina Sisulu passed away last night at her home in Linden, northwestern Joburg. She was 92 years old.

The Sisulus – Albertina and her husband, Walter, who died in 2003 – became the iconic symbol of family values in the struggle against apartheid.

Described by the BBC as “one of the leading lights of the anti-apartheid movement,” Albertina Sisulu had served in various positions in the liberation movement, including that of president of the ANC Women’s League and joint president of the United Democratic Front.

Over the years, she had made many memorable statements. Here are a few:

» “Over the years I got used to prison, banning and detention. I did not mind going to jail myself and I had to learn to cope without Walter. But when my children went to jail, I felt that the (oppressors) were breaking me at the knees.” (, October 2010)
» “This is the price I’ve had to pay for freedom. Remember others have paid with their lives.” – On being detained and having her husband and some of her children arrested (Fairlady, April 11, 1990).
» “I was there when the 20 000 women marched to Pretoria to protest to Strydom about passes; I was among the women who closed the schools when Bantu education came in (setting up alternative classes); and who dragged the men out of the beerhalls.” (The Star, May 9, 1984)
» “It doesn’t mean we must organise a fighting struggle, but we must come together and demand our rights. If we all knew what was really important, we would just need to shout once.” (The Star, May 9, 1984)
» “My request is for strengthening sanctions against our country, and another will be about the children that are going to be hanged … I want the heads of state to force our government to give those children clemency.” – Ahead of her meeting with US President George Bush in 1989 (The Star)

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