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Serote - a pioneer nurse and activist

By unknown | Feb 20, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Sowetan Reporter

Sowetan Reporter

Alina Dikeledi Serote, who died on February 11 at the age of 88, was a community worker and founder-member of the multiracial women's organisation, Women for Peace, which was formed at the height of the apartheid era in response to the 1976 student uprisings.

Along with other women in Alexandra, she rallied behind the organisation in which women from different backgrounds, races and cultures worked towards a peaceful end to apartheid.

They promoted communication between the country's races and raised awareness about the needs of all South Africans, especially the marginalised.

Born in Frankfort in Free State in 1920, Serote moved to Joburg with her parents at the age of two. The family lived in Sophiatown, from where they were forcibly removed as a result of the Group Areas Act.

Serote was educated at St Cyprian's Primary School in Sophiatown and then at St Peter's Secondary in Rosettenville.

In 1943 she qualified as a nurse at the then Pretoria Non-European Hospital and in 1947 trained as a midwife at McCord Hospital in Durban. She qualified in ward administration and clinical teaching at Kalafong Hospital in Pretoria in 1969.

In 1980 she was promoted to senior matron overseeing all cancer departments in the Non-European Hospital in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, where she pioneered the involvement of black nurses in what was then a preserve of white professionals.

In the same year she was one of only two black nurses selected to study oncology at Johannesburg European Hospital in Parktown. She later lectured nurses to prepare them for the SA Nursing Council's external examination in oncology.

Serote was a founding member of the Alexandra/Sandton Community Resource Centre (Alex San Kopano) in 1986.

She also co-founded a community development trust called Work to Win in 1992. The organisation's objective was to equip the youth with skills to enable them to start their own businesses.

In 1987, Serote was one of four South African women to represent SA in the United States where they networked with other women's groups operating self-help projects.

In that year she was also among the top 10 Sowetan Women of the Year finalists, top 10 Bona-Ellerine People's Personalities.

She was married to the late Joseph Nyelole Serote and is survived by five children, 19 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and a brother.


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