BORN uMAMA Nontsikelelo Thethiwe but to you and me affectionately known as Ma Sisulu, would have turned 100 years on 21 October this year-2018, if she were still alive.
Born in the Tsomo District, Eastern Cape this month 1918, this struggle stalwart, selfless woman and iMbokodo, was celebrated last night as we commemorate her birthday by two of SA’s- the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, at the Linder Auditorium, Parkshurst.
The first wife to the late struggle icon Walter Sisulu. Ma- Sisulu adopeted the name Albertina when she started her schooling at a Presbyterian Mission School in Xolobe.
Titled ‘Celebrating the Centenary birth of Mrs Albertina Sisulu: “A Woman of Fortitude”, addressing media, the family members ANC stalwart Max and Eleanor Sisulu, agreed that uMama Sisulu was a woman of substance who took no-nonsense as a result of intimidation by Apartheid forces.
Says Eleanor: As a family we’re happy that uMama has been recognized, honoured and celebrated by all races throughout the world for the role she played in realizing democracy they so much fought for.
The only thing that saddens me was that we could ONLY celebrate her birthday after Apartheid because there was nothing to celebrate, as they went from one country to another, hiding and avoiding detention and torture. But now as family, we’re happy her Soul will rest knowing she played her role in shaping what this country has become and democracy she fought for, with her peers.”
Sometimes emotional Max only request as the country that we could do was to respect one another, because uMama believed strongly in Ubuntu (humanity). That was her cornerstone and that’s what we’re instilling into our children.
According to Max, uTata Sisulu attended Sakie Macozoma’s wedding in 1991 hence the relationship with the celebrated businessman, who is both chair for Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, respectively.
The soft-speaking Macozoma, who was in the company of retired deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, alluded simply that he’s honoured for being allowed the opportunity to play a role in transforming and developing both orchestras and of course, thanked the Sisulu family for having borrowed the country their children in the time of need during Apartheid.
Both the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra performed the new Ma Sisulu Sinfonia commissioned work by accomplished composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen.
“As South Africa marks the centenary of the life and legacy of Albertina Sisulu, a fearless champion of democracy and human rights, the orchestras are proud to participate in these commemorative events. Ma Sisulu was truly a woman of fortitude and we believe that this concert, will help to remind us of her values of cou
rage, discipline and love for all people of South Africa,” said Bongani Tembe, chief executive and artistic director of the Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestras.
Moseneke, in his parting shot said uMama Sisula was one of the finest daughters on the Continent.
Minister of International Relations Dr Lindiwe Sisulu, who arrived late for the occasion, said she was overwhelmed by the response from both local and international community.
Packed to raptures, the audience drew influential figures from lawyers, politicians and business figures such as Wendy Luhabe, retired KZN Judge, humanitarians and African-American conductor maestro, Bill Eddins.
The KZNPO will perform the Ma Sisulu Sinfonia in its Spring Season in the Durban City Hall on November 8 at 7.30. This concert will be conducted by Justus Frantz.
Also featured in the KZN concert is Mozart’s Lucio Silla Overture, Piano Concerto No 9 and Coronation Mass in C Major.