Tribute to women warriors

Bobbi Sands


A YEAR-LONG exhibition dedicated to five women who played a significant role in the liberation struggle will open on Tuesday at the Red Location Museum in New Brighton.
The exhibition is a tribute to Florence Matomella, Nontuthuzelo Mabala, Veronica Sobukwe, Lilian Diedricks and Nosipho Dastile.
Red Location exhibition curator Nomabaso Bedeshe said the exhibition: Yesterday’s Heroines – Today’s Inspiration, will focus on their contribution toward the struggle.
“It will include biographies of these special women and their photographs.
“Also included are artefacts which relate to their struggles,” said Bedeshe.
The municipal arts and culture directorate with financial assistance from the National Heritage Council, researched the five women with regard to their contribution to the liberation of South Africa.
Florence Matomela was born in 1910 and worked as a teacher.
She was angered by new influx control regulations in Port Elizabeth, and led a demonstration which ended in the burning of permits.
She was one of the first women volunteers in the 1952 Defiance Campaign, and spent six weeks in prison for civil disobedience.
She was a member of the ANC executive.
In the mid-1950s, Matomela was the Cape provincial organiser of the ANC Women’s League and vice-president of the Federation of South African Women.
 She was among the original 156 defendants in the Treason Trial.
Matomela was banned and restricted to Port Elizabeth in 1962.
While she was in prison, her health deteriorated badly. Soon after her release Matomela was banned again, and died under banning orders in 1969.
Nosipho Dastile was a well-known political figure and founder of the United Democratic Front.
She was the first president of the Uitenhage Women’s Organisation, and chairwoman of the ANC Women’s League in Uitenhage after liberation movements were unbanned in 1990.
Dastile was one of the first councillors in the democratic Uitenhage transitional local council from 1994 to 1999.
Nontuthuzelo Mabala is a veteran of the ANC Women’s League and one of the brave women who marched in 1956 against pass laws.
 She was 24 when she was jailed for six years for her part in the struggle for women’s rights and dignity.
Lilian Diedricks was born in 1925 near the railway line in Red Location.
She was an active trade unionist and shop steward and founder member of the Federation of South African Women in 1954. Her family was forced out of New Brighton around 1940.
She was also one of the four women at the head of the Women’s March on the Union buildings to oppose the pass laws in 1956.
Veronica Sobukwe was, according to Bedeshe, a very private person.
“She was more comfortable with working behind the scenes, one would seldom find her in the public eye.
“Many times she had to deal with the police as they harassed her and her family. She had to raise the children alone as her husband, Robert Sobukwe, was in prison for most of his adult life.”
The exhibition opens on Tuesday and runs to November 30 next year.

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