Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe: Mother of Azania.


Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, was an icon of struggle for African power and justice in South Africa, and also the widow of late president of the Pan Africanist Congress, Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe. In April, Zondeni, affectionately known as the "Mother of Azania", was awarded the Order of Luthuli. She was born on July 27, 1927, in Hlobane, KwaZulu-Natal, she and her husband met in the struggle and their story was that of "love at first sight", as Zondeni said some years ago. At the time, 1949, Mangaliso Sobukwe was the president of the Student Representative Council at Fort Hare University while Zondeni was a trainee nurse at Victoria Hospital in Lovedale. The nurses at the hospital had been involved in a labour dispute with hospital management at the time and Zondeni was one of the leaders in that strike which caught the attention of Sobukwe and other student leaders. Owing to her involvement in that strike, Zondeni was expelled from Lovedale College and she and her friend Thandiwe Moletsane (later Mrs Makiwane) went to Joburg after being sent by the then Fort Hare ANC Youth League to deliver a letter to Walter Sisulu to bring to his attention the plight of the nurses in Alice. It was during those trying times that the bond between them grew and they tied the knot in 1950. Zondeni supported her husband throughout, including praying together on March 21, 1960, when Sobukwe handed himself over for arrest in protest against the pass laws. He was sentenced to three years in prison for incitement, but the apartheid government refused to release him after his jail term ended.

The government instead enacted a "Sobukwe Clause" which allowed it to keep Sobukwe in jail for as a long as it wanted. He...

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