39 Facts About Albertina Sisulu


Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu was a South African anti-apartheid activist, and the wife of fellow activist Walter Sisulu.


Albertina Sisulu was affectionately known as "Ma Sisulu" throughout her lifetime by the South African public.


Albertina Sisulu died on 2 June 2011 in her home in Linden, Johannesburg, South Africa, aged 92.


Albertina Sisulu had to stay out of school for long periods of time, which resulted in her being two years older than the rest of her class in her last year of primary school.


Albertina Sisulu adopted the name Albertina when she started her schooling at a Presbyterian mission school.


Albertina Sisulu excelled at school in cultural and sporting activities and she showed leadership skills at an early age when she was chosen as head girl in standard five.


Albertina Sisulu's classmates did not seem a major inconvenience at the time she finished primary school, later when Sisulu entered a competition to win a four-year high school scholarship this counted against her as she was disqualified from the prize even though she had come in first place.


The Mnyila family was very happy and celebrated Albertina Sisulu's achievement with the entire village, she recalled the celebration, saying "you would have thought it was a wedding".


Albertina Sisulu decided she would not marry but rather become a working professional so that she could support her family back in Xolobe.


Albertina Sisulu was accepted as a trainee nurse at a Johannesburg "Non-European" hospital called Johannesburg General.


Albertina Sisulu graduated from Mariazell College in 1939, and chose a career in nursing.


Albertina Sisulu started work in Johannesburg as a midwife in 1946, often walking to visit patients in townships.


Albertina Sisulu did not display an interest in politics at first, only attending political meetings with Walter in a supporting capacity, but she eventually got involved in politics when she joined the African National Congress Women's League in 1948, and took part in the launch of the Freedom Charter the same year.


Albertina Sisulu was the only woman present at the birth of the ANC Youth League.


Albertina Sisulu became a member of the executive of the Federation of South African Women in 1954.


Albertina Sisulu spent three weeks in jail before being acquitted on the pass charges, with Nelson Mandela as her lawyer.


Albertina Sisulu was arrested after her husband skipped jail to go underground in 1963, becoming the first woman to be arrested under the General Laws Amendment Act of 1963 enacted in May The act gave the police the power to hold suspects in detention for 90 days without charging them.


Albertina Sisulu was in and out of jail for her political activities, but she continued to resist against apartheid, despite being banned for most of the 1960s.


Albertina Sisulu was a co-president of the United Democratic Front in the 1980s.


Albertina Sisulu regarded her relationship as being that of a "mother and a son", and the two never allowed the rivalry between the UDF, and Azapo, of which Asvat was the Health Secretary, and a founding member, to interfere with their friendship or working relationship.


Albertina Sisulu was honoured for her commitment to the anti-apartheid struggle and her social work when the World Peace Council, based in Basel, Switzerland, elected her president from 1993 to 1996.


Albertina Sisulu recruited nurses to go to Tanzania, to replace British nurses who left after Tanzanian independence.


Albertina Sisulu became a trustee for the centre and helped fundraise for it.


Mrs Albertina Sisulu has witnessed first-hand the development of the community where the Albertina Sisulu family lived, sorely lacking in social services and despite enormous obstacles, has committed herself to alleviating the hardships of the community.


Albertina Sisulu testified before the commission about the Mandela United Football Club, a gang linked to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, accused of terrorizing Soweto in the 1980s.


Albertina Sisulu was accused of trying to protect Madikizela-Mandela during the hearings, but her testimony was stark.


Albertina Sisulu said she believed the Mandela United Football Club burned down her house because she pulled some of her young relatives out of the gang.


Albertina Sisulu testified about hearing the shot that killed her colleague, a Soweto doctor whose murder has been linked to the group.


Albertina Sisulu first met Walter Albertina Sisulu in 1941 while working at Johannesburg General Hospital; at that time he was a young political activist.


Albertina Sisulu instead spent 25 years in custody on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela, whom he had brought into the ANC.


Albertina Sisulu spent months in jail herself and had her movements restricted.


Several of the Albertina Sisulu children have themselves become leaders in the democratic South Africa.


Beryl Albertina Sisulu is South Africa's ambassador in Norway; Lindiwe was from 2009 to 2012 the minister of defence; Zwelakhe, was a prominent businessman; and daughter-in-law Elinor Albertina Sisulu, married to Max, is a well-known author and human rights activist.


Albertina Sisulu said the following in 1987, referring to Soweto, the urban area southwest of Johannesburg constructed for the settlement of black people.


Albertina Sisulu died suddenly in her home in Linden, Johannesburg at age 92 on the evening of 2 June 2011, while watching television with her grandchildren.


At the time of her death, Albertina Sisulu was survived by five children, Max, Mlungisi, Zwelakhe, Lindiwe and Nonkululeko, her adopted niece and nephew, Gerald and Beryl, and 26 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.


Albertina Sisulu's family expressed their sorrow at her death, but said that it comforted them to know that she and her beloved husband of 59 years were no doubt together again.


Albertina Sisulu became national co-president of the liberal United Democratic Front at its inception in 1983.


Also, the section of the R21 e-toll Highway in Gauteng from OR Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni to its interchange with the N1 Highway in Pretoria is commonly called the Albertina Sisulu Freeway, indicating that the R21 from Pretoria to the airport and the R24 from there to Bedfordview are together known as the Albertina Sisulu Freeway.