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The late anti-Apartheid and human rights activist Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu was born Nontsikelelo Thethiwe in the village of Camama in the Tsomo district of South Africa’s Transkei region, on October 21st, 1918 Both Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu who she married in 1944 were born not to far from Albertina’s birth place Like Mandela, the name ‘Albertina’ came about as a result of Sisulu attending a colonial missionary school Affectionately referred to as ‘Ma Sisulu’ or ‘Mother of the nation’ by many South Africans, Albertina Sisulu trained as a nurse – one of the few means of employment for African women outside of domestic work In 1940 she left the Transkei for Johannesburg to begin her training as a nurse at a non-European hospital It was in the highly segregated and fast-paced urban ‘City of Gold’ that Albertina Sisulu experienced racism for the first time It was also here that she would meet the man who would become her life-long partner and the man that would introduce her to politics and the anti-apartheid struggle Walter Sisulu,Albertina Sisulu would go on to be involved in many anti-apartheid groups movements and events such as the ANC Women’s League the Defiance Campaign against pass laws for women and the Pietermaritzburg Treason Trial Her husband Walter Sisulu was a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe the anti-terrorist armed wing of the ANC co-founded by Nelson Mandela and would later be imprisoned at Robben Island in the mid-1960s up until 1989 She would also along with Communist Party member John Nkadimeng, set up an underground cell to help ANC members leave South Africa for training and education in other parts of the continent and the world Her incredible instincts also helped the ANC weed out informants such as John Mavuso who had been leaking information about the ANC and this underground cell to the apartheid police,From her political involvement in the ANC that began in the late 1940s and despite being served several banning orders throughout her life up until her in 2011 Albertina Sisulu would serve as a prominent leader in the anti-apartheid struggle and the women’s liberation movement in South Africa winning several humanitarian awards In 1994 after South Africa’s first democratic elections both her and her husband served as members of parliament, and in the same year the pair celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Sadly in 2002 Walter Sisulu passed away after collapsing in Albertina’s arms
Albertina passed away at the couple’s Linden, Johannesburg home on June 2nd, 2011

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