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Remembering Charlotte Mannya Maxeke

Struggle stalwart Charlotte Maxeke was a trailblazer who chose to walk in many an uncharted territory. 

She was the first black woman to graduate and obtain a BSc Degree in Southern Africa in 1901.

“Some have even tended to refer to her as a woman of many firsts. Until her remarkable feat at Wilberforce University in Ohio, in the United States, no black woman had obtained a degree on our shores,” said Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.

He was speaking at the launch of The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke recently.

Government has declared 2021 as “The year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke.” This year marks 150 years since her birth.

She will become the second woman to be memorialised and honoured in this way. In 2018, struggle icon Albertina Sisulu was honoured in a similar manner.

Maxeke had an impact in many areas, including education, faith and politics.

“When the African intelligentsia, faith and traditional leaders met to form what was later to be known as the African National Congress (ANC) way back in 1912, uMama Maxeke was the lone brave female voice in that conference.

“She held her head high and made a contribution, undeterred by perceptions and societal norms that sought to relegate women to subservient roles in society,” said the Minster.

Maxeke is counted as one of the first women to establish a school.

The Minister announced a number of events to honour Maxeke. These include:

  • The Department of Women will erect a bust in honour of Maxeke. Plans are in place to have this bust unveiled at the local AME Church in Botlokwa, Limpopo.
  • The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, through its Heritage Promotion and Preservation Branch, has already started exploratory work into mounting a statue of Maxeke.
  • There is ongoing work on the promotion of African filmmaking through the National Film and Video Foundation. This year the project will be dedicated to Maxeke, as part of preserving her legacy, and in highlighting the role of women in this industry.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said her department will work with the Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke Institute on some activities, with the focus on raising awareness of gender-based violence and femicide in the 30 hotspot areas.   - SAnews.gov.za