Blessed Christmas to our heroes

Xolile Ndzoyi, Gugulethu

Gugulethu is a geographically small area compared to other African townships in the Western Cape.

However, this township has produced many icons who played a significant role in changing the course of our country’s history. Perhaps Gugulethu owes this proud record of being home to many icons, to the days of the apartheid struggle, the workers struggles and various other platforms.

One name that springs to mind is that of the late Dora Tamana, a quiet and an unassuming woman who was among the thousands of women who took part in the early anti-apartheid struggle in the 1950s. This woman leader, who hailed from a little village called Hlobo, in the Eastern Cape, was born in 1901.

Because of the hardships our black people experienced in the villages (ezilalini) in the Eastern Cape, she could not watch her family suffer, so she disappeared and resurfaced in Cape Town in her quest to find work to support her family.

But her search for work led to her taking up voluntary work in the fight against apartheid as a member of the ANC.

She later joined the SACP, the National Federation of South African Women and by 1942 she was already a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee.

She is among the many unsung leaders of our anti apartheid struggle who quietly led the movement from her tiny home in Gugulethu.

On November 11 this year, Mama Dora Tamana would have been 115 years old.

Her remains are lying at the NY5 cemetery- but sadly many of us would not recognise the grave of this icon; it resembles an ordinary grave.

Mama Tamana, throughout her life of struggle, made Gugulethu her home.

She would evade police surveillance and attend crucial ANC NEC meetings and Women’s League engagements in other parts of the country, yet this township has yet to honour her.

There is not a single reference made to her either the renaming of a national road or a public hall, just to name a few.

While we applaud the honouring of our struggle icons and other leaders who made significant contributions in ending apartheid, however, we should not turn a blind eye to the many Dora Tamanas who deserve accolades.

Our government, our local leadership, we owe it to these communities, perhaps such a gesture could be of immense appreciation to their families.

May you rest in peace Mama Dora Tamana.