It is with a profound sense of loss and deep sadness that we have learnt of the passing of struggle stalwart, lifelong activist and advocate against apartheid, Mama Zondeni Vereonica Sobukwe. The Foundation extends its deepest condolences to the Sobukwe family, friends and colleagues of Mama Sobukwe, affectionately known as ‘Mother of Azania’. Her immense contributions to the liberation struggle, including her years of activism in the black township during the darkest days of apartheid, remain largely silenced and erased from public memory and national consciousness. As part of the broader collective of anti-apartheid activists struggling to bring about a just, equal and democratic society, she served her communities, particularly Black people, with supreme dignity and suffered greatly as a result of her unflinching determination to the cause of the liberation struggle.
Mama Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe was not only admired and loved by ordinary people in South Africa, but her steady activism and selfless contributions were also largely recognised throughout the international community, particularly in the African continent and diaspora.
In her youth she participated and led protest marches against racist conditions imposed on trainee Black nurses at Victoria hospital eDikeni (Alice). Her leadership of this protest march resulted in her later meeting with Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, then President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) at the University of Fort Hare. Following the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960, Mama Sobukwe fiercely challenged the regime on the unjust conditions surrounding Robert Sobukwe’s incarceration under the draconian Sobukwe Clause.
She remained the backbone of her family and sacrificed her life for freedom and the vision of a just and liberated society. “Mama Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe epitomizes the collective struggles of Black people in South Africa. Her title of ‘Mother of Azania’ speaks to her insurmountable commitment to the youth and peoples of South Africa, as well as her fierce activism and struggle against racial discrimination. Whilst saddened by her passing, we celebrate her humility and selflessness, and will remember her as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, a champion of our young democracy”, said Mr. Nkosinathi Biko, Executive Trustee at the Steve Biko Foundation.