South African’s National Liberation Movement

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ANC Statements


On the occasion of her 152nd birthday, the African National Congress pays tribute to Mama Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke. Born on the 7th of April 1871, she remains an inspiration to those who are leading the struggle for freedom, gender equality, and women empowerment across the globe.

Mama Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke was a religious and political activist whose life epitomised resilience and the capacity to overcome obstacles and succeed against all odds. A pioneer and fearless activist who entered where angels feared to tread, she was the first black woman to graduate with a university degree in South Africa (with a B.Sc. from Wilberforce University Ohio in 1901).

Mama Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke remains an inspiration for those who are leading the war against racial oppression, patriarchy, and all forms of injustice. Through her own personal conduct and articulation, she demonstrated selfless commitment to the upliftment of the downtrodden. In her own words: “This work is not for yourselves – kill that spirit of self, and do not live above your people, but live with them. If you can rise, bring someone with you’’.

Mama Maxeke’s name will forever be inscribed in history as one of the fiercest and uncompromising fighters against oppression and injustice, and a visionary on whose sweat laid the foundation for the new democratic South Africa.

Due to the selfless struggles waged by Mama Maxeke and millions of others, South African women have taken their rightful place in society. However, more still needs to be done to ensure the full participation of women in the economy and in key leadership positions. We must work tirelessly to remove all barriers that prevent women from claiming and occupying their place in the economy.

As she rests, Mama Maxeke continues to challenge us to pay attention to women’. If we are all committed to the ideals that inspired Mama Maxeke, then we have a collective duty never to tire of pursuing gender equality and economic empowerment of women.

The ANC is painfully aware that gender-based violence undermines our collective efforts to build a non-sexist, prosperous, and equal society to which Mama Maxeke dedicated her entire life. Defeating the unacceptably high levels of gender-based violence requires the collective efforts of all South Africans. Together, we must all make a commitment to defeat gender-based violence if we are determined to build the kind of society that Mama Maxeke envisaged.

In the name of Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke, we must make a solemn pledge to liberate our homes, streets, workplaces, and every space from those who kill, abuse, and terrorise women and children. We call on the criminal justice system to show no mercy to perpetrators of violence against women and children.

Long Live the spirit of Mama Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke, Long Live!




Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri
National Spokesperson
Tel: 076 891 5420


Media Relations
Amos Phago
Tel: 076 750 6961