Late president Nelson Mandela and patriarchy have been blamed for overshadowing the struggle icon Albertina Sisulu’s memorial lecture.
The lecture was delivered by retired Constitutional Court Judge Yvonne Mokgoro in a packed auditorium at the Walter Sisulu University (WSU), Mthatha campus last week.
A WSU student and a member of the SRC, Zama Nako, said she was disappointed that not a single picture of anti-apartheid icon Mama Sisulu could be seen at the venue, but instead there were “pictures of Mandela all over the place”.
This year marks the centenary of both Mandela and Sisulu’s births and government has set out a programme of commemorative events to mark the lives the the struggle stalwarts.
However, Nako said there was no branding material for Sisulu at the memorial lecture in her name, while there were two banners for Mandela from the Nelson Mandela Museum. She blamed the Department of Arts and Culture for not doing enough to give Sisulu a proper tribute.
Mandela would have turned 100 on July 18 and Sisulu on October 21.
“I am sorry to say this, I don’t mean to be disrespectful or anything, but that day was supposed to be about uMama Albertina Sisulu and I am very disappointed that there was not even a single picture of her.
“We do know that it is utata Mandela’s centenary, as well as uMama Albertina Sisulu, and we have already celebrated Mandela with a lecture in this campus,” said Nako. “The only link to her was a picture of her late husband Walter Sisulu whom the university is named after and that is patriarchal in its nature.”
She said it was little things like this that proved that patriarchy was rife in the country and that Mama Sisulu would have spoken against it.
Nako said: “The little things that you do not pay attention to, they are also patriarchal in their nature. She may have been a woman of unity but the society that we are in currently, I don’t think she would have been proud to say this is the freedom I fought for. This is what I went to jail for, took me away from my family and suffered for.”
To Nako’s comfort, Judge Mokgoro also spoke against patriarchy in her own address when she delivered the lecture. She said Mama Sisulu’s story traversed the personal, professional and political life. “I, too, see the legacy in the manner she navigated the demands of her personal and family life at a time when the pervasive power of patriarchy textured gender relations in a way unimaginable,” she said.
Judge Mokgoro described Mama Sisulu as a bold freedom fighter who was unfazed and dared to challenge and fight the brutality of the apartheid regime and its security agents for the liberation of South Africa’s people. “Most remarkable was how she juggled all of these levels of her life so effectively at a time in history of our society when women, particularly women in rural areas, had to face the pervasiveness of patriarchy.”
Spokesperson for the department of arts and culture, Asanda Magaqa, said women’s month of August was dedicated in honour of Mama Sisulu. “There will be more activities in her honour throughout this month.”
Magaqa said she did not attend the WSU event because she was off sick and could not answer questions that were related to its branding.
– African News Agency (ANA)