Graca Machel hailed the late Mama Albertina Sisulu as a courageous women who was passionate about helping other people.
“She was the rock and was confronted with the harsh realities of politics,” Machel said.
Delivering the Albertina Sisulu centenary memorial lecture at the University of Pretoria on Tuesday evening, Machel told the audience that Mama-Sisulu was charged with the responsibility of looking after her siblings at an early age.
Albertina Sisulu passed on 5 June 2011 peacefully at her home in Linden in Johannesburg.
“She was confronted with the harsh realities of politics and she was courageous in her work. Her work was a lifeline to others. We need to take a closer look at her life and learn from her life,” Machel said.
Machel said Sisulu’s conscience was ignited by the political harshness.
“She had the ability to work with other people. She was a leader who contributed immensely in the struggle against the apartheid regime. We need to dig many other stories of other women which are untold,” Machel said.
Machel called on young women to emulate Mama Sisulu who was able to raise her children single-handedly while her husband was in prison.
She expressed concern about children who are growing without their fathers, saying these are some of the things that make children to become a problem or burden in society.
She said only 33 percent of children live with both parents.
Machel advised young single mothers to take inspiration from Mama Sisulu.
“If you want something and you are determined, you will get it,” she said.
Health Deputy Minister Joe Phaahla said he first met Sisulu in the 80s in Soweto when they were organising the release of the Mandela campaign.
“I have worked with Mama Sisulu in many other campaigns. She was a brave and a dedicated woman.
“In the name of Sisulu, we must commit to their ideals,” Phaahla said.
Max Sisulu said both his parents sacrificed their lives for the freedom South Africa enjoys today.
“Our responsibility is to make sure that future generations live a better life,” he said.
Mama Sisulu’s husband, Walter, was released from prison in October 1989. Walter passed on 5 May 2003.
The memorial lecture was to honour the centennial of Sisulu’s birth by recognising her selfless contribution in the struggle and in society.
This year marks the centenary of both Mandela and Sisulu's births and government has set out a programme of commemorative events to mark the lives of the struggle stalwarts.
The former Transkie-born was not only involved in politics but was committed to alleviating the hardships of the community through community work as well and because of her passion for education, her centre, the Albertina Sisulu multipurpose centre has amongst other things built a school for children with special needs and an Early Childhood Development Centre for learners from the age of three years. – SAnews.gov.za