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Suryakanthie Chetty

prominent South African antiapartheid activist and wife of African National Congress (ANC) leader Walter Sisulu, rose to prominence on her own accord and was given the appellation MaSisulu, a mother of the nation.

She was born in rural Transkei in the Eastern Cape on 21 October 1918, the second of five children. She was the first in her family to attend school, beginning at a primary school in Tsomo district, followed by secondary school, and then Maria Zell, a Roman Catholic college. Her level of education set her apart from other young people in the impoverished area. Her older brother, for instance, was limited to herding livestock.

Her initial desire to be nun as a result of her early exposure to Roman Catholic doctrine at Maria Zell made way to a growing desire to be a teacher Her early ambitions however were dealt a severe blow by the ...