Brave, militant and disciplined were words used to describe Mlungisi-born anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Nombulelo Soji during a memorial lecture at the Chris Hani district council chambers last week.
Chris Hani district deputy mayor, Noncedo September-Caba, reflected on Soji’s life and the selfless contribution she had made as a member of the Queenstown Youth Organisation (Queeyo) in the fight for liberation. “She was a brave young girl. Her bravery was conveyed in her work. She had a heart problem and we used to call her ‘heartijie’ but despite her heart condition she left her family and went into exile. She understood the term comradeship. She was a disciplined soldier and was committed and prepared to die.”
In her speech, keynote speaker Womvasa general secretary Vuyiswa Tyobeka, who left for exile with Soji and three other comrades in 1985, said they were left with no option but to swell the ranks of uMkhonto weSizwe. “We wanted to acquire what was called the art of war to defend and liberate our people from the brutality of the apartheid regime. Our focus was to emancipate women because that is not the responsibility of women alone, but an equal responsibility for men and women. We executed all four pillars of the liberation struggle and fought bitterly. When we came back from exile, our government had established what we called the peacekeeping force in which Soji served,” she said.
In light of Women’s Month, Tyobeka, who condemned gender-based violence said president Cyril Ramaphosa stated that economic emancipation of women was part of women empowerment. “40% of goods must be procured by entities sourced by women-owned businesses. As long as we continue to empower men, women and children will look to men who have resources in a government that we all fought for. We constitute more than 52% of our national population, but when it comes to the allocation of resources we get very little,” said Tyobeka.
A candle lighting ceremony against gender-based violence and to remember fallen struggle heroes and heroines was conducted.
A certificate was awarded to the Soji family honouring Nombulelo Soji’s contribution to freedom and the emancipation of women. The family was also provided with food packages to take home. Accepting the certificate, Soji’s brother Zolile said they were not expecting the occasion and thanked the ANC for honouring his sister.
Three non-profit organisations led by women, Msobomvu Cooperative, Lizokwakhana Skills and Youth Development and Vukuzenzele Disability Centre each received R10 000 worth of fabric and sewing material. Masks were also provided to Phila Uqiqe and Akhanani Home Community Based Care.