[DEBATE] : WP: Ellen Kuzwayo passes
dym at gwu.edu
Thu Apr 20 14:02:43 BST 2006
Ellen Kuzwayo; South African Rights Pioneer
By Alexandra Zavis
Thursday, April 20, 2006; B07
South African author, women's rights and anti-apartheid champion Ellen
Kuzwayo died April 19 after a long illness. She was 91.
Ms. Kuzwayo was admitted three weeks ago to Soweto's Lesedi Private
Clinic, suffering from complications associated with chronic diabetes,
one of her sons told the South African Press Association.
She was the first black writer to win South Africa's premier CNA
Literary Prize for her 1985 autobiography, "Call Me Woman," a book
that made her a spokeswoman for the suffering and triumphs of black
women under apartheid.
"My motivation for writing the book was born out of the negative image
about black women in South Africa, promoted by the general community
of white people of this country, in particular the women . . . who
employed African workers as domestic workers," Ms. Kuzwayo said.
In 1996, she published a collection of short stories, "Sit Down and
Listen: Stories From South Africa." She also collaborated on films.
Born in rural Free State, Ms. Kuzwayo inherited the family farm, only
to lose it soon afterward, when the area was declared for whites only.
Trained as a teacher and social worker, she moved to the sprawling
Johannesburg township of Soweto, where she became an active opponent
of the brutal white-minority regime after police gunned down students
in 1976 protests against the introduction of Afrikaans as the language
of instruction in black schools.
Arrested for her political activities, she spent five months in
detention in 1977.
Ms. Kuzwayo was elected to Parliament in South Africa's first all-race
elections in 1994, serving five years. She was also active in projects
to educate women and improve living conditions in Soweto, becoming an
institution in the township, where her advice was sought by schools,
church groups, welfare agencies and many others.
Survivors include two sons, six grandchildren and three great-
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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