feminist icon who used art to fight for democracy in South Africa

As the tributes continued pour out for South Africa Lindiwe Mabuza, Who deceased on December 6, 2021, it was clear that she will be remembered for the many different roles she occupied during her lifetime. She has been called an ambassador, diplomat, feminist, poet, writer, freedom fighter, leader and educator, among others.

Born in 1938 in Newcastle, South Africa, she was undoubtedly a women’s rights activist, bringing women’s concerns to the fore at a time when the struggle against aside exceeded womens rights.

Lindiwe skillfully linked her love for the creative arts with teaching moments. She was passionate about innovative ways to teach children to write about their experiences. She traveled across Scandinavia teaching children about the evils of apartheid – a racially segregated ideology rooted in white minority rule in South Africa.

Long before the end of apartheid, already in 1979, it represented the The National African Congress (ANC) in the Nordic countries and the United States and is well known for its role in consolidating the international movement against apartheid. After democracy in 1994, she will become Ambassador, then High Commissioner of South Africa to the United Kingdom from 2001.

Intellectual cultural activism

For Lindiwe, art was a essential component of the struggle against apartheid: “We have used it as a weapon, an additional weapon in the struggle.

It is the combination of the art of storytelling as a teaching methodology, as a means of awareness raising, as a networking tool, that has contributed to his leadership style. Examples of these are his networks and friendships with prominent African-American artists such as Quincy Jones, Danny glover and Harry belafonte as well as black leaders like the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Randal Robinson and Barbara lee, to only cite a few.

Mabuza used the name Sono Molefe for the wrestling poetry book.
uHlanga poetry press

In 2017, she deserved has received the Arts and Culture Trust Lifetime Achievement Award for Arts Advocacy. The reward trace his involvement by becoming the editor-in-chief of the ANC Women’s league Voice of Women publication in 1977, where it provided the platform for women to speak out. She also used her post as broadcaster within the ANC Radio freedom to highlight the plight of women. And she was responsible for promoting the Malibongwe Book Project. To do this, she invited female teachers, freedom fighters, nurses and students in the trenches of Tanzania, Angola and Mozambique to present in their own words their experiences as black women. in the battle. She edited the book – which was banned but appeared in Europe in 1980 – under the name Sono Molefe.

Lindiwe believed it was important for women to tell their own stories because they too played an important role in the story against oppression. She was indeed a feminist when the concept was not yet as popular as it is today.

His love for storytelling is evident in his various anthologies of poetry. Herself noted:

Poetry is part of the struggle. You use armed struggle; you use political methods… You recite a poem. It’s better than a three hour speech. This gets to the heart of the matter. It moves people.

It is so reminiscent of the poetry of wrestling and theater which are an integral part of the era of the struggle against apartheid.

she published Voices Leading: Poems 1976-1996 (1998); Letter to Letta (1991); Footprints and fingerprints (2008); Malibongwe, you never know – poetry and short stories from the women of the African Congress; From the ANC to Sweden; and Africa mine: Gedichte Englisch / Deutsch (1999).

Mabuza discusses his OR Tambo book project.

Lindiwe never forgot about children and in 2007 she published a children’s book Animals of South Africa. In the same pedagogical tradition, she published a book of 30 contributors entitled Conversations with uncle OR – Memories of childhood in exile in which the contributors reflect on their experiences born, raised and educated in foreign countries.

It was important for her to give a space and a voice to children whose experiences are often marginalized and even erased in the larger struggle for freedom and democracy.

Lifelong educator

Her life is a kaleidoscope of a longtime educator and artistic creator who intersects with age, nationalities and gender. She took every opportunity to build movements with a conscience and understood that it was imperative to keep these experiences in writing. She leaves behind a legacy of collaboration and networking.

Lindiwe had a particular interest in marginalized children and women and had the ability to leverage her skills as an educator and provide the platforms where they too could express themselves in this masculine and patriarchal world.



Read more: South African black feminist writers raise their voices in new book


Lindiwe Mabuza’s life did not have an easy start, but she was able to use these drawbacks as a challenge and in the process, she did not leave others behind but continued to create opportunities and platforms. shapes for others. His cultural and political work will continue to live on in his publications.



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