Albertina Sisulu

  • It was Walter Sisulu who first saw in Nelson Mandela the future transformational leader of South Africa. Like Mandela, he spent more than two decades in prison on Robben Island, where he was known as Allah because he was so wise and calm. Walter's wife of 59 years, who died June 2 at 92, fulfilled the same role for the women of South Africa. Albertina--people called her MaSisulu--was the sensible but strict grandmother who fought discrimination for five decades. In 1956 she led a march of 20,000 women against the apartheid pass laws and was one of the first women to be arrested under the pernicious Amendment Act No. 37 laws. She was married to Walter, and they were both married to the struggle.