Mokgoro inspired by activist Albertina Sisulu’s life story

Retired constitutional court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro spoke fondly about inspirational struggle veteran Albertina Sisulu yesterday in Mthatha.
Retired constitutional court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro spoke fondly about inspirational struggle veteran Albertina Sisulu yesterday in Mthatha.
Image: Ziyanda Zweni

Anti-apartheid activist Albertina Sisulu was a fearless and selfless leader, freedom fighter and politician of service whose interests were not embedded on power, influence and greed.

This was said by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro when she delivered the Albertina Sisulu Memorial Lecture at the Walter Sisulu University Nelson Mandela Drive campus in Mthatha on Thursday night as part of her centenary celebrations.

Professional nurses, ANC Women’s League members, WSU management, students and the Sisulu family members filled the auditorium to capacity.Mokgoro said she had benefited from Sisulu’s story. “A story that traversed the personal, the professional and the political. It is in that story that her legacy lies,” she said.

Most remarkable is how she juggled all of this legions of her life so effectively at a time in the history of our society when women, particularly in rural areas had to face the pervasiveness of patriarchy.

Mokgoro called for social cohesion and nation-building as the centre of societal interactions. “The sheer determination and courage Ma Sisulu so steadfastly displayed confronting head-on apartheid racial discrimination and other injustices in the nursing profession and not least of all the unassuming politician that she was of service and not of power, influence and greedy,” she said.

“Most remarkable is how she juggled all of this legions of her life so effectively at a time in the history of our society when women, particularly in rural areas had to face the pervasiveness of patriarchy.”

She said Sisulu was ahead of her time. She said unless the constitution demands were addressed, the lingering injustices and inequality based on class, gender, denying people who continue to suffer under abject poverty, the equal opportunity that the preamble pointed to, so that they too can free their potential and become integral to the mainstream, “we as the people will not become the sovereign and united society that compete with other nations”.

“It is for that reason that every effort must be made to narrow the gap which is so glaring in our society. We must detonate that ticking bomb.”

Mokgoro said that violence generally, but specifically domestic violence against children and women in societies and homes, must be decisively addressed.

“If Ma Sisulu had been here today, I have no doubt she would find the current domestic violence alarming.

“Unless patriarchy and the role that it plays in gender power relations is effectively addressed, gender-based violence and particularly domestic violence will not be decapitated.”WSU’s nursing preceptor, Sister Sibongile Gwiji, said nurses were slowly losing the values of Ma Sisulu, saying most youth were in the profession for money.

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