Lillian Ngoyi

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Lillian Masediba Ngoyi
Lillian Ngoyi.jpg
Born (1911-09-25)25 September 1911
Died 13 March 1980(1980-03-13) (aged 68)
Nationality South African
Other names Ma Ngoyi
Occupation politician
Known for fighting apartheid
Grave of Lillian Ngoyi in the Avalon Cemetery

Lillian Masediba Ngoyi "Ma Ngoyi", (25 September 1911 – 13 March 1980), was a South African anti-apartheid activist.[1][2][3][4] She was the first woman elected to the executive committee of the African National Congress, and helped launch the Federation of South African Women.

Ngoyi joined the ANC Women's League in 1952; she was at that stage a widow with two children and an elderly mother to support, and worked as a seamstress. A year later she was elected as President of the Women's League. On 9 August 1956, Ngoyi led a march along with Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, Bertha Gxowa and Albertina Sisulu of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings of Pretoria in protest against the apartheid government requiring women to carry passbooks as part of the pass laws.

Lilian Ngoyi was also a transnational figure who recognised the potential influence that international support could have on the struggle against apartheid and the emancipation of black women. With this in mind she embarked on an audacious (and highly illegal) journey to Lausanne, Switzerland in 1955 to participate in the World Congress of Mothers held by the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF). Accompanied by her fellow activist Dora Tamana, and as an official delegate of FEDSAW, she embarked on a journey that would see an attempt to stow away on a boat leaving Cape Town under "white names", defy (with the help of a sympathetic pilot) segregated seating on a plane bound for London and gain entry to Britain under the pretext of completing her course in bible studies. With Tamana, she would visit England, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, China and Russia, meeting women leaders often engaged in left wing politics, before arriving back in South Africa a wanted woman.[5]

Ngoyi was not an intellectual, rather she was known as a strong orator and a fiery inspiration to many of her colleagues in the ANC. She was arrested in 1956, spent 71 days in solitary confinement, and was for a period of 11 years placed under severe bans and restrictions that often confined to her home in Orlando, Soweto. A community health centre in Soweto is named in her honour.

On 16 November 2004, the South African Ministry of the Environment launched the first vessel in a class of environmental patrol vessel named the Lillian Ngoyi in her honor.[2][3]

On 9 August 2006, the 50th anniversary of the march on Pretoria, Strijdom Square from which the women marched, was renamed Lilian Ngoyi Square.[6] 9 August is commemorated in South Africa as Women's Day.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chris Van Wyk (2006). Lillian Ngoyi. Awareness Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-77008-160-4. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Richard Davies (16 November 2004). "SA christens first new environmental vessel". Independent Online. Retrieved 4 December 2011. "A sprinkling of holy water and a spray of champagne marked the naming of the first of South Africa's four new environmental protection vessels, the Lilian Ngoyi, in Cape Town harbour on Tuesday."  mirror
  3. ^ a b "SA's marine protection vessels". SAinfo. 20 May 2005. Retrieved 4 December 2011. "Lilian Ngoyi rose to prominence during the defiance campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s. She was one of the leaders of the 20 000-women march to the Union Buildings in 1956 in protest against the pass laws."  mirror
  4. ^ Cathy LaVerne Freeman (10 August 2009). "Relays in Rebellion: The Power in Lilian Ngoyi and Fannie Lou Hame". Georgia State University. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Black History Month: Lilian Masediba Ngoyi (1911-1980)". Women's History Network. 17 October 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2011.  mirror
  6. ^ Kyle G. Brown (28 May 2010). "South Africa's street signs, place names lead to more struggle". Toronto Star. Retrieved 5 December 2011. "The square now bears the name of Lilian Ngoyi, the anti-apartheid activist who, in the 1950s, led marches against laws requiring blacks to carry identification, particularly to enter white areas."  mirror

External links[edit]