Hundreds of local residents joined regional, provincial and national representatives at Titi Jonas Hall last Friday to celebrate 100 years of Mama Albertina Sisulu under the theme “Woman of fortitude”.
Unpacking the theme, Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle said it was “a call to reflect on our past, engage on the present and imagine the future the way we would want to see”.
Guests included officials from the provincial legislature and Sisulu family members.
Masualle was joined by the MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Bulelwa Tunyiswa, Eastern Cape provincial commissioner General Lindiwe Ntshing, Eastern Cape provincial speaker Noxolo Kiviet and Amathole District executive mayor Nomfusi Winnie Nxawe.
Representing the Sisulu family were Phumla Mnyila, a cousin of the late struggle icon, and Vuyelwa Sisulu, a granddaughter.
Albertina Sisulu, who endured difficult times and tests of character under the apartheid regime, was used as a living example to encourage current generations.
The event was also meant to celebrate women’s role in the public domain and bridging the gap between older generations and the current generation.
Albertina Sisulu was not the only point of reference to encourage the current generation to make their presence felt in the public sphere. Two women, Zoliswa Noxhego and Sinentlantla Shozi, who play rugby at a national level were part of the event and used as living testimonies to encourage females to break gender barriers.
The growing number of women in the economic sphere and academic arena was also highly appreciated.
However, the achievement of the few in the public domain did not make speakers overlook the challenges faced by the current generation, including the abuse of women who live in fear.
Audre Lorde’s quote was used to challenge women to take upon themselves the abuse of other females: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
Masualle acknowledged the importance of women in society and further highlighted how the patriarchal system came about.
He said the discovery of gold in the 19th century led to men going to work in Gauteng, leaving women at home raising children. It was at this stage that the division of roles were slowly appearing acceptable in society, he said. Men were seen as breadwinners while women were domestic workers.
But Masualle said something good had emerged out of the bad, with the rise of leaders like Albertina Sisulu.
However, the struggle for gender equality still continued. He said even in the ANC NEC, in which he served , “few women are visible in that leadership”.
“We need women together with progressive men to join hands together to expose such things,” he said.
He exhorted young women to find confidence to express themselves.
On the other hand, young men should be conscious that abusing women is unacceptable.
Masualle rebuked law enforcers who allegedly send victims back to the family to resolve matters.