Sisulu, Albertina (1918–)

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Sisulu, Albertina (1918–)

South African anti-apartheid activist. Name variations: Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu; Mama Sisulu. Born Oct 21, 1918, among the Xhosa people, in Tsomo, Transkei, South Africa; dau. of Benjamin Boniliawe and Nonani Thethiwe; certified as a nurse; m. Walter Sisulu (ANC official), July 17, 1944 (died 2003); children: daughters Nonkululeko, Lindiwe, and Beryl (adopted); sons Max, Mlungisi, Zwelakhe (prominent journalist), Jonqumzi (adopted), Gerald (adopted), and Samuel (adopted).

African National Congress (ANC) official, called the "mother of the nation" for her role in the struggle against apartheid, began learning about the injustice of apartheid when she started working in the black hospital in Johannesburg and was required to be under the supervision of white nurses, even when she held seniority over them; worked as a nurse in Johannesburg (1944–81); joined the ANC's Women's League (1940s), serving as deputy president (1954–63); helped form the multiracial Federation of South African Women (FSAW, 1954), of which she would later become president (1980); with FSAW, led huge demonstrations against the extension to women of the hated pass laws and against the introduction of the infamous Bantu education system; shared 1st jail sentence (1958) with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; after husband was incarcerated for life in prison on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and 6 other ANC leaders (1964), endured 17 years of continuous bans, including 10 years during which she was subject to dusk-to-dawn house arrest; was arrested again (1983) and sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment for leading ANC songs, distributing its literature, and displaying its black, green, and gold flag; managed to get freedom pending appeal and suspension of half the sentence; helped found United Democratic Front (UDF, 1983), incorporating hundreds of anti-apartheid groups, and was elected one of its three co-presidents while in jail; with other anti-apartheid activists, traveled to US (1983), using the 1st passport granted to her by South African government; was the 1st South African black nationalist leader to meet with a US president; became president of World Peace Council in Johannesburg (1992); was elected a member of Parliament (1994).

See also Women in World History.

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Sisulu, Albertina (1918–)

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