Albertina Sisulu described as the embodiment of selflessness

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Former Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chairperson, Dr. Brigalia Bam, says Albertina Sisulu was an exemplary figure whose humility and great leadership qualities will remain relevant for generations to come.  Dr. Bam has been delivering the Albertina Sisulu Memorial Lecture as part of Ma Sisulu’s centenary celebrations in her birthplace at Xolobe in Tsomo in the Eastern Cape.

Sisulu died in 2011. Dr. Bam has described her as the embodiment of selflessness and a remarkable, incorruptible leader. “Even during the dark days of apartheid when Ma Sisulu was desperate for money she stayed true to herself and never tried to find a quick solution to her problems.”

Dr. Bam says Ma Sisulu never betrayed the struggle and fought to the bitter end. “She was special in very many ways. She was a woman who had so many gifts as a leader, a person who really cared for humanness and humanity in its fullest sense. She knew who she was and respected the self. Respect for self and truthfulness is able to prevent you from corruption.”

Sisulu’s granddaughter, Nontsikelelo Sisulu-Singaphi, says the country still has a lot of work to do in order to realise the total freedom many fought and died for. “We have work to do. Ma Sisulu in the foreword written by Dr. Bam starts by saying, ‘our responsibility is to tell our story having stopped to assess what we have done and it’s up to the next generation to do with it as they will’. The country must indeed remain free, democratic and non-sexist and we must move very swiftly towards non-sexism and a nonviolent South Africa so that we can be a prosperous country.”

However, Tsomo still struggles with poor infrastructure. Villagers at Xolobe village where Ma Sisulu was born, struggle to get water and electricity. “We need water, we need roads. We’re struggling with water. Even the youth have nothing to do because they are hungry. Their parents are not working and it’s not easy for them to go to school. Now they go do drugs,” says one of the residents.

A housing project is in the pipeline as well as other infrastructure programmes.  Arts and Cultrure MEC, Bulelwa Tunyiswa, says the inter-ministerial committee will launch them this financial year. “The Department of Human Settlement is responsible for rural housing, the multipurpose centres and also the destitute families. Hundred and one families are going to benefit in that project.”

A number of events marked the Sisulu centenary celebrations. These included an imbizo with the elderly and stop overs at clinics and a hospital by government officials. Government has promised to provide residents with houses, water and electricity in honour of Ma Sisulu. Click below for more on the story: