Today marks 150 years since struggle icon, mama Charlotte Maxeke, was born.

The religious leader and political activist was the first Black South African woman to earn a university degree.

Her political home, the governing African National Congress, has declared this year the Year of Charlotte Maxeke with a focus on unity, renewal and reconstruction.

The party has planned various activities to honour the stalwart.

South African and ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa, will lead celebrations in the Eastern Cape.

Among others, Ramaphosa will hand over a Charlotte Maxeke Agriculture Legacy Project in Fort Beaufort and later deliver a memorial lecture in the struggle icon’s honour at Fort Hare University in Alice.

SA and ANC Deputy President David Mabuza will lead the Limpopo commemoration in Botlokwa, outside Polokwane. The event also forms part of freedom month celebration.

ANC Spokesperson in Limpopo, Donald Selamolela, says Mabuza will unveil a plaque in the home of Charlotte Maxeke.

“The Deputy president of the African National Congress comrade David Mabuza will be in the province as part of the commemoration of mama Charlotte Mannya Maxeke who we are celebrating her life and time this year. The African National Congress has dedicated this year as part of celebrating mama Maxeke, comrade Mabuza will start in the morning at Ramokgopa tribal office where he will pay a courtesy visit,” explains Selamolela.

Cape Town-based journalist and activist Zubeida Jaffer has written a biography on Maxeke called, Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke. Jaffer describes the ANC struggle stalwart as an epitome of women empowerment in South Africa.

Maxeke was an intellectual and an academic, a religious leader, social and political activist. She was the first Black female graduate in the country and the first to graduate from an American university.

“This remarkable woman was written out of history, most of us knew nothing or very little about her until very recently. She was in fact the first South African, black female graduate, a trained teacher and a woman ahead of her time making a mark both locally and internationally. Celebrating her birthday today is the first step towards celebrating her national life,” says Jaffer.

Countdown to Maxeke’s 150th anniversary: