A woman of fortitude – Albertina Sisulu


As we bid farewell women’s month, let us reflect on this year’s centenarian Mama Sisulu’s strength and resilience, and how young women are taking up the baton to stand against gender-based issues, evident in the #TotalShutDown march.

Young women continue the legacy left behind by the great women of the 1956 Women’s march and amplifying the centenary theme for Mama Sisulu “A woman of fortitude”. The appreciation of women and their hard work in holding up and building this country is a continuous acknowledgement.

Albertina Sisulu was a fearless champion of democracy and human rights. The centenary celebrations have been marked by a series of commemorative events.

One of this, is Brand South Africa nationwide outdoor campaign which has over 23 branded trucks with Mama Sisulu’s image captioned “Be driven by the spirit of giving”, a clear reminder to all citizens to be the legacy, thus echoing the theme for the centenary in recognition of her courage, selflessness, integrity and love for her country.

Another significant acknowledgement of Mama Sisulu’s centenary is the renaming of a very rare orchid which grows in the hills just above the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden. The special Orchid is renamed Albertina Sisulu Orchid by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The botanical name of the critically endangered orchid, Brachycorythis conica subsp. Transvaalensis, grows a mere 2.5 km.

Some Facts About the Albertina Sisulu Orchid:

  • The orchid was first discovered in 1918 – same year that Mama Sisulu was born
  • Since 1918 it has been recorded 16 times mostly from Gauteng
  • The orchid was only given its botanical name in 1955 – the year that Mama Sisulu joined the African National Congress Women’s League
  • The orchid was last seen a year later in 1956 – the year that Mama Sisulu joined over 20 000 women, to march against the apartheid pass laws to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
  • The orchid was not seen again or recorded again for 51 years until 2007 – just four years before the passing of Mama Sisulu

The plant occurs partly on Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden property. It was important to give it an African name that reflects its value as a uniquely South African natural heritage which can be found nowhere else in the world.

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Source: http://pza.sanbi.org/brachycorythis-conica-subsp-transvaalensis