Female freedom fighters are often relegated to simply the wife of their more notable male freedom fighter husband. In devising this project, we sought to highlight the important role that women, such as Adelaide Tambo, played in the liberation struggle and place emphasis on shifting existing narratives around how we define freedom fighter. The event also sought to highlight the equal contribution that women made then and continue to make today.
In partnership with Absa, the Swedish Embassy, EasyEquities and the National Heritage Council, we hosted the inaugural dialogue in the Deconstructing the Definition of a Freedom Fighter series, titled #NotJustAWife, at Constitutional Hill’s Women’s Jail.
The panellists were Baleka Mbete, former speaker of the National Assembly; Bev Ditsie, LGBTQIA+ activist and filmmaker; Kagiso Maphalle, historian and NHC senior executive, Khanyisile Chaba, head of Responsible Business at Old Mutual, and was facilitated by film programmer and television producer, Lesedi Oluko Moche.
The audience valued the frank and open manner in which the panel members engaged with them. Be it Ms Chaba’s revelation of Dr Thandi Ndlovu’s abuse; Dr Ditsie’s remarks of feeling unsafe when it came to wearing skirts as a woman in 2019 South Africa; or Adv Maphalle’s reflection on the matrilineal Balobedu tribe and the way in which they lead, and have always led, their people, each panellist’s tale was abundant with authenticity, honesty and sincerity. This allowed for an honest, open discussion of the world we live in.