One of the oldest living struggle icons hailed by some as an unsung hero and widow of PAN African Congress founder, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe died on Wednesday, according to a statement released by her family. The 91 year-old freedom fighter had reportedly been in and out of hospital and succumbed to illness at a Graaff-Reinet hospital, a town in the Eastern Cape.
Tributes have poured in on social media with members of the public expressing their sadness but also emphasizing the role we have to play in remembering and honouring her legacy.
A Sobukwe family representative shares: "The Sobukwe family is deeply grateful for the gift of her life and the innumerable lesson she leaves behind, and even as we mourn her passing, we celebrate her humility and the simplicity with which she approached and viewed life. Indeed, a Great Tree has fallen!"
As a former nurse, Sobukwe played a pivotal role in highlighting the plight of black nurses in the Eastern Cape during the struggle. She was one of many wives and mothers at the time who kept homesteads looked after and selflessly served the community despite having husbands who were arrested and exiled under the Apartheid government.
Leader of the PAC Narius Moloto shared his thoughts on the late struggle stalwart’s sacrifices:
"She never wavered, she raised the children alone because her husband was in prison or under house arrest.
Below are some of the Twitter tributes from prominent South African figures:
#RIPMAMASOBUKWE you and your families commitment to the people of this land will forever be etched in our collective memory! Rest revolutionary mother of Azania, izwe Lethu! ✋🏾iAfrika! Mayibuye✋🏾We will continue to fight for the land! pic.twitter.com/XYYsL8JPZu
— KingTha (@thandiswamazwai) August 15, 2018
#RIPMamaSobukwe #Izwelethu - please tell Baba Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe that we shall be expropriating land without compensation for equal redistribution in South Africa. pic.twitter.com/MopiaA9mpg
— Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) August 15, 2018
A fallen spear releases sorrow and regret into the air, leaves questions like quivering arrows in a pregnant bow. The greatest injustice is to leave it lying there, without an heiress to pick it up and point the way to the promised land. Her spirit lives in us #RIPMamaSobukwe
— Iman Rappetti (@imanrappetti) August 15, 2018
There is no doubt that her passing is a great loss to both her family and fellow South Africans. She was by many standards a remarkably poised leader, who fought with strength and conviction. It is important that we honour her legacy and the indelible role she played in fighting for democracy.