Graaff Reinet remembers Mama Sobukwe

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Anti-apartheid activist Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe will be remembered on Wednesday at a memorial service in her home town of Graaff Reinet in the Eastern Cape.

She died in the town last week at the age of 91.

Mama Azania, as she was affectionately known, was the widow of Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) founder, Robert Sobukwe.

She was born on the 27th of July, 1927 in KwaZulu-Natal. She was an activist who led a strike at the Victoria Hospital in Lovedale, Alice, that subsequently led to her expulsion from the nursing college.

Friends, family, congregants and PAC members are expected to flock in large numbers to the Robert Sobukwe town hall as they prepare to bid her an eternal goodbye. Her family says it will forever be grateful for the role she played in their lives and also the country as a whole.

Here are some of the sentiments and memories from people who knew her. “I will remember uGogo as an icon she was. I will remember her humbleness, I will remember because gogo was kind but very strict.”

“My memories of my grandmother was a very kind and caring person. I think its important to remember that she made a lot of sacrifices for her family, and also for the country.”

Pastor at the Sobukwe memorial church, Xolani Nomandla says he’ll remember her as a warrior for justice.

“One of the values that she instilled in us was honesty. One of her principles was that she believed in fighting for injustice. As your recall in 1941, she was one of the leaders who fought for the injustice that was experienced by nurses then.”

Sobukwe – who had opened a frail care centre called the Veronica Sobukwe Old Age Home – has also been remembered by her employees as a very loving person, who dedicated herself to serving the community of Graaff-Reinet.

Employee Andrew Mencu, had this to say. “Mama Veronica Sobukwe formed the centre throughout the suffering of the community and she decides to help old people of here in Graaff Reinet so that they can have something to eat and something to take them to hospital and she bought a car to pick up old people and take them to hospital.”

Memorial services are being held in six provinces. A category 2 Special Official Funeral will be held in Graaff-Reinet on Saturday. President Cyril Ramaposa, among others, is expected to attend.

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