Monday, June 13, 2011









V. 1. A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

V. 20.She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

V. 25. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

V. 26. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

V. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

V. 29. Many women do noble things but you Albertina, surpass them all.

V. 30. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeing but a woman that fears the lord shall be praised.

V. 31. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city. 



The first time I met Ma Sisulu at her home in Orlando West, I was with one of his sons, Zwelakhe and two other activists in the late 1977’s immediately after the South Africa Government banned 18 Black Consciousness organizations.


Ma Sisulu as we affectionately called her was confined to her home under the South African banning order. She was not supposed to be in the presence of more than two people at a time. If she could be found in the presence of more than two people at a time, she was going to be arrested for contravening her banning order and sent to jail.

I was a member of the Soweto Committee of Ten and we worked together with, Zwelakhe. He was a journalist and the president of Writers Association of South Africa. We now and then had political meetings at her house. When we are more than three, she will leave us and go to the bedroom.


In our text, Proverbs 31, King Solomon, the one who requested Wisdom when he took power as a King decided to end his book on Proverbs with a chapter honoring a woman, a wife and an activist.


Proverbs are wise sayings relating to spiritual truths and common sense. There are 31 Chapters in the Book of Proverbs and I would challenge everyone to take a month with 31 days and read a chapter a day. I can assure you that by the end of the month you will be different and wiser.


King Solomon raises a critical and thought provoking question in the first verse of the Chapter 31. “A wife of noble character, who can find her?  If you can find her, you will see that she is worth far more than rubies (V. 2). She is worth more that the earthly treasures. There is no enough lobola for her.  Who can find a virtuous woman? Who can find a woman we can call her “BLESSED?”


This evening as we gather at this Memorial Service, at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington DC, we can say without a doubt that we have found a wife of noble character. Call her Nontsikelelo, which means blessings.  This virtuous woman calls her Thethiwe. This means, she was spoken about.  She was talked about.  Call her Albertina! Call her Ma Sisulu!   Above all call her “Blessed!!”


Why is Ma Sisulu a woman of noble character? Why is Ma Sisulu a virtuous woman? Why do we call her “Blessed?”


1.      SHE IS A WOMAN WITH PRESENCE.  When you are in her company you feel a certain kind of her aura and profound presence. She was quiet, no noise and no drama. In our text, Proverbs 31 verse 25 and 26 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instructions are on her tongue.” When you are in her presence you learn a lot. She used to say “I am pleased to see young ladies in the struggle “She encouraged us. I was a young woman in the twenties when we visited her. We also got strength from her as she was a fearless woman. We wanted to be like her. She was banned and she was not being able to continue actively organizing the struggle as she did in 1956 with the Women’s Anti-Pass laws demonstrations. We were not banned as yet and we traveled throughout Soweto organizing the civic organizations to resist Apartheid laws. Her presence was profound and we felt it.


2.      SHE WAS A WOMAN WITH PURPOSE. Ma Sisulu was clear about her purpose in life. She was first a wife. She knew how to be a wife. She was indeed a helpmate, not a helpmaid.  She knew how to walk not in front or at the back but beside her husband, Ntate Walter Sisulu. Her decades under banning orders, house arrests and her husband Ntate Sisulu’s life imprisonment at Robben Island did not distinguish the love they had for each other. The letters they wrote to each other has special love for each other.  Who can find a wife of noble character? In verse 11. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  Her second purpose is that she was a mother. Not only a mother of Max, Vuyisilwe, Mlungisi, Zwelakhe,  Lindiwe and Nonkululeko –Beryl, she was our mother also. A mother of the Nation of South Africa in deed. We felt her nurturing, comfort and encouragement as we continue in the struggle. Most of the leaders in South Africa, not only in ANC alone but in other organizations against Apartheid, had their revolutionary milk from her.  She was a mother of the Nation. She was a nurse and midwife and she delivered babies. Brother Nat Nkosi called me from Atlanta telling me that she has delivered their first son on April 21 1966. In verse 20 the woman called ‘Blessed’ opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She worked with Dr. Asvat in a clinic in Soweto to provide health care even to those who were not able to pay.

Her purpose was not only a wife, mother, she was an activist. She started with the August 9, 1956 protest against the pass laws. “Wa thinta umfazi, wa thinta umbokotho. (You have touched woman you has struck a rock) She was arrested, banned; active in the then Housewives league now ANC Women’s league and Co-founder of United Front. She was a comrade and a heroine. She fought on two fronts, in the total Anti-Apartheid struggle of the people and gender equality for women.  Call her revolutionary, Call her comrade. Above all call her ‘Blessed!’



When Ntate Walter Sisulu was confined to Robben Island, Ma Sisulu was confined to her home in Orlando West.  There was not bitterness in her spirit but Peace. She was not anxious or depressed, she showed peace within. In her obituary I learned that she was exposed to the Presbyterian Mission School and it was there where I believed she was introduced to Jesus Christ. She changed her name to Albertina. It is not unusual that when you encounter Jesus, you change your life and your name. Saul after his encounter with Jesus, he changed his ways and his name from Saul to Paul. He began to understand peace and not war. MaSisulu understood the Peace of Christ that calmed her heart and gave her resilience in her political trials and tribulations. The World Peace Council in Switzerland elected her president from 1993 to 1996. We also saw peace when she left this world. It is reported that she was watching television with her family peacefully, when the angel of the Lord came to pick her up to eternal life and peace.  


Looking back at her life with profound presence, intentional purpose and perfect peace, Ma Sisulu fits the model of a woman with a noble character who Solomon describes as he ends his book of the Proverbs.


Her children call her ‘Blessed.’  Some  may call her Nontsikelelo, Thethiwe, Albertina, Ma Sisulu, nurse, comrade, heroine, mother of the nation, tonight in her memory we call her “ BLESSED!”  “BLESSED! “  “BLESSED”


These Words of Comfort were delivered at the Memorial Service of Mrs. Albertina Sisulu on June 9, 2011, 6:30pm at Metropolitan AME Church, Washington, DC, USA  by Rev. Dr. Mankekolo Mahlangu-Ngcobo

“Copyright 2010 Rev. Dr. Mankekolo Mahlangu-Ngcobo, Life Restoration Ministry”

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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