Former PE activist recognised
Up until four days ago ANC stalwart Nondwe Mankahla, 85, thought her contribution to the liberation struggle had been forgotten.
Yesterday, Mankahla, of New Brighton – along with others – had the highest award in the land, the Order of Luthuli, bestowed on her by President Jacob Zuma.
The national orders are the highest awards that South Africa bestows on its citizens and others.
They include the Order of Ikhamanga‚ the Order of the Baobab‚ the Order of Luthuli and the Order of the Companion of OR Tambo.
The Order of Luthuli award recognises individuals who have made a meaningful contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation building, justice, peace and conflict resolution.
Moments before the event at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria, an excited Mankahla said she was relieved their efforts were not forgotten.
Mankahla said news of the ceremony had come as a surprise four days ago when a friend told her of the event after reading newspaper reports.
“I had been reading in the papers about the upcoming ceremony but I did not realise that it had anything to do with me until a guy in Port Elizabeth explained to me that since I was a trialist in 1969, this was an invitation as well,” she said
“I am thankful that we have been recognised at last.
“We thought we had been forgotten, especially the 22 of us who were involved in the 1969 trial.
“We have been through great difficulties but we appreciate that we have been recognised with these certificates.”
It was especially important for her children to remember the role she played in the fight for freedom, she said.
“My children and grandchildren will know that I was once somebody who fought for this country.”
Mankahla’s involvement in the fight for freedom dates back to the 1950s when she worked as a newspaper distributor while actively volunteering in the Bay’s ANC branches.
Yesterday’s prestigious event was followed by lunch with Zuma and presidency officials.
Zuma said he was honoured to recognise the men and women, locally and from abroad, who had served the country with great distinction.
“The recipients in this category include an interesting, formidable combination of those who fought apartheid though community development, advocating for inclusive higher education [and] through underground sabotage activities,” Zuma said.