Is heroine Ngoyi forgotten?

EXACTLY 30 years ago this week we buried Our Grandmother of the Liberation Struggle, Masediba Lilian Ngoyi, née Mphahlele, then 68, her coffin carried on a horse-drawn cart, before the expiry of her banning order on May 31.

EXACTLY 30 years ago this week we buried Our Grandmother of the Liberation Struggle, Masediba Lilian Ngoyi, née Mphahlele, then 68, her coffin carried on a horse-drawn cart, before the expiry of her banning order on May 31.

For 18 years she had been "imprisoned" in her Soweto home by the apartheid regime.

And yet - and it saddens me greatly - not a word or a hint appears to have been uttered in her honour, in this year of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Why, dear comrades?

Even the ANC Women's League has been deafening in its silence. I desperately tried to access its website for guidance.

Lo and behold, it was frozen in time in 2009, with its anachronism regarding the national executive committee of 2003, mind you!

Exasperated I called its direct landline. I was answered by voicemail. I threw in the towel.

I then remembered that to date not a single president of the ANC and of the Republic of South Africa, nor the executive mayor of Johannesburg, or the premier of Gauteng, has ever been to MaNgoyi's humble abode at 9870b in Nkungu Street, Mzimhlophe.

Yet she is a 1982 Isitwalandwe-Seaparankoe, the highest award ever to be bestowed on a national hero, or heroine of the African National Congress.

She shares a grave at Avalon Cemetery with her liberation bosom friend, Helen Joseph, a 1992 Isitwalandwe-Seaparankoe. Last year word got out that their grave would be declared a national heritage site.

Then echoed the "sound of silence", to paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel.

I care a lot about the heritage she bequeathed to us, because I happen to have been the last journalist to interview her in August 1979.

I remembered hers and the gallant 20 000 mothers of the 1956 Women's Freedom March to Pretoria against the dompas, during the 50th anniversary in 2006.

Co-editor Jacqui Masiza and Mum Bertha Gxowa, MP, had organised a prayer day with a visit to MaNgoyi and MaJoseph's grave.

The Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust underwrote the costs of the festivities when the sisterhood failed to rise to the occasion.

Every day I see MaNgoyi, animated as always, in full flight at a meeting - on my office wall, that is.

Mothobi Mutloatse, Johannesburg

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