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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 ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Walter Sisulu, known for his commitment to studying and teaching while imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, was called by one of his African National Congress (ANC) colleagues “the organization’s encyclopedia in prison.” A mentor to younger members, such as Mandela and Oliver Tambo, Sisulu joined the ANC in 1940, after his impoverished Johannesburg childhood and his work in the country’s gold mines had introduced him to the injustices that black South Africans faced.

In addition to helping Mandela and Tambo complete their law studies, Sisulu also joined the two in the newly formed ANC Youth League, planning strategy and serving as its treasurer. Elected ANC secretary general in 1949 Sisulu played a key role in coordinating activities with other antiapartheid groups including the Communist Party of South Africa later renamed the South African Communist Party or SACP and the South African Indian Congress This work he ...

Article

prominent African National Congress (ANC) leader in South Africa, was born 18 May 1912 in Qutubeni village, Ngcobo, Transkei, to Alice Sisulu, domestic worker and daughter of a peasant farmer, and Victor Dickenson, a white clerk. Sisulu was raised as an African, having a rural childhood influenced by his grandmother, mother, and guardian uncle and village headman Dyanti Hlakula. Formal schooling at Manzana and Qutubeni mission schools ceased at Standard 4, aged fifteen, after which he migrated to Johannesburg, South Africa. Here he delivered milk to the mines, suffering assaults by a white employer and police. He then worked as a domestic, a sweeper, and a mine worker, where he experienced a strike and saw resistance to pass laws led by black Communists.

After visits home in 1929 and 1930 (for initiation), in 1931 he sought work in depression rife East London enduring bouts of unemployment but finding domestic ...