|Deputy President of the African National Congress|
July, 1991 – 1994
|Preceded by||Nelson Mandela|
|Succeeded by||Thabo Mbeki|
|Secretary-General of the African National Congress|
|Preceded by||James Arthur Calata|
|Succeeded by||Oliver Tambo|
|Born||Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu
18 May 1912
Ngcobo, Transkei (now Eastern Cape), South Africa
|Died||5 May 2003(aged 90)|
|Political party||African National Congress|
|Part of a series on|
Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu (18 May 1912 – 5 May 2003) was a South African anti-apartheid activist and member of the African National Congress (ANC), serving at times as Secretary-General and Deputy President of the organisation. He was jailed at Robben Island, where he served more than 25 years' imprisonment.
Family and education
Sisulu was born in Ngcobo in the Union of South Africa. His mother, Alice Mase Sisulu, was a Xhosa domestic worker and his father, Albert Victor Dickenson, was white. Dickenson worked in the Railway Department of the Cape Colony from 1903 to 1909 and was transferred to the Office of the Chief Magistrate in Umtata in 1910. His mother was related to Evelyn Mase, Nelson Mandela's first wife. Dickenson didn't play a part in his son's upbringing, and the boy and his sister, Rosabella, were raised by his mother's family, who were descended from the Thembu clan.
Educated in a local missionary school, he left in 1926 to find work. He moved to Johannesburg in 1928 and experienced a wide range of manual jobs.
He married Albertina in 1944, Nelson Mandela was best man at their wedding. The couple had five children, and adopted four more. Sisulu's wife and children were also active in the struggle against apartheid.
His son Zwelakhe Sisulu became a journalist and union leader, went on to found the New Nation (at the time South Africa's largest black newspaper), served as Nelson Mandela's press secretary, became CEO of the South African Broadcast Corporation, and later a business person.
An adopted daughter, Beryl Rose Sisulu, served as ambassador from the Republic of South Africa to Norway.
He joined the ANC in 1940. In 1943, together with Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, he joined the ANC Youth League, founded by Anton Lembede, of which he was initially the treasurer. He later distanced himself from Lembede after Lembede (died 1947) had ridiculed his parentage (Sisulu was the son of a white foreman). Sisulu was a brilliant political networker and had a prominent planning role in the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation"). He was made secretary general of the ANC in 1949, displacing the more passive older leadership, and held that post until 1954. He also joined the South African Communist Party.
As a planner of the Defiance Campaign from 1952, he was arrested that year and given a suspended sentence. In 1953, he travelled to Europe, the USSR, Israel, and China as an ANC representative. He was jailed seven times in the next ten years, including five months in 1960, and was held under house arrest in 1962. At the Treason Trial (1956–1961), he was eventually sentenced to six years, but was released on bail pending his appeal. He went underground in 1963, resulting in his wife being the first woman arrested under the General Laws Amendment Act of 1963 (or "90-day clause"). He was caught at Rivonia on 11 July, along with 16 others. At the conclusion of the Rivonia Trial (1963–1964), he was sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964. With other senior ANC figures, he served the majority of his sentence on Robben Island.
Release from prison
In October 1989, he was released after 26 years in prison, and in July 1991 was elected ANC deputy president at the ANC's first national conference after its unbanning the year before. He remained in the position until after South Africa's first democratic election in 1994.
In 1992, Walter Sisulu was awarded Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, the highest honour granted by the ANC, for his contribution to the liberation struggle in South Africa. The government of India awarded him Padma Vibhushan in 1998. Walter Sisulu was given a "special official funeral" on 17 May 2003. In 2004 he was voted 33rd in the SABC3's Great South Africans.
- Obituary: Walter Sisulu - BBC News obituary, dated Monday, 5 May 2003
- Sisulu, Elinor (10 June 2011). "Tribute: Life, love and times of the Sisulus". The New Age. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- Walter Sisulu - ANC Page ANC
- David Beresford, "Walter Sisulu" (obituary), The Guardian, 7 May 2003.
- Walter Sisulu Walter Sisulu
- "SA mourns anti-apartheid icon ‘Ma’ Sisulu". The Namibian (NAMPA). 6 June 2011.
- Sapa and Mkhulu Mashau (2012-10-14). "Zwelakhe Sisulu laid to rest - South Africa | IOL News". IOL.co.za. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- Hultman, Tami (2012-10-05). "South Africa: Zwelakhe Sisulu - a Remembrance". AllAfrica. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- Female ambassadors luncheon.
- H. Lever, "The Johannesburg Station Explosion and Ethnic Attitudes", "The Public Opinion Quarterly" (Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 1969). pp. 180–189. JSTOR 2747759.
- Sisulu, Walter Max; Houser, George M.; Shore, Herb (2001). I Will Go Singing: Walter Sisulu Speaks of His Life and the Struggle for Freedom in South Africa. Robben Island Museum.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Walter Sisulu.|
- Anti-apartheid fighter Sisulu dies - BBC News article, dated Tuesday, 6 May 2003
- South Africa mourns Sisulu - BBC News article, dated Tuesday, 6 May 2003
- Nelson Mandela's tribute to Walter Sisulu - BBC News article, dated Tuesday, 6 May 2003
- The African Activist Archive Project website includes the audio of a January 1987 Interview with Walter Sisulu conducted in 1954 by George M. Houser of the American Committee on Africa. The website also includes photographs of Sisulu and demonstrations in the U.S. in support of the defendants in the Rivonia Trial.