She gave her life to the struggle

NNOSENG Ellen Kate Khuzwayo was born on June 29 1914 in Lesotho.

She grew up on her grandfather's farm in Thaba Nchu and inherited the farm in 1930 but lost it soon afterwards when it was declared a "white area".

She began school at the age of 7 and proceeded to St Paul's Higher Primary and to St Francis College, where she was a boarder.

Khuzwayo's mother died when Khuzwayo was 16 years old. After this she threw herself into her studies.

After attending Adams College for four years she spent a year at Lovedale College in Fort Hare, graduating in 1936 at age 22.

She then began a career in teaching.

In her late 20s Khuzwayo married Ernest Moloto but the marriage was not a happy one. She gave birth to two boys, but Khuzwayo fled to Johannesburg because of abuse from her husband, leaving her sons behind.

After her divorce, Khuzwayo threw herself into many activities on top of her teaching duties and even did volunteer work with local youth groups.

Khuzwayo returned to school at the age of 39 and completed a training programme at Jan Hofmeyr School of Social Work.

Armed with a degree in social work, and a higher diploma in social work from Wits University, she began working with the Johannesburg city council.

After this, she worked with the South African Association of Youth Clubs and for the YWCA-Dube Centre.

Her career peaked when she accepted a position as general secretary of YWCA-Transvaal Region in 1964.

While holding this very challenging post, Khuzwayo maintained her connections with her community, encouraging women to work together in self-help groups.

After the Soweto uprising in 1976 Soweto residents chose 10 people to study the role of members of the local councils who were cooperating with the apartheid regime.

Khuzwayo and nine men were selected to the committee of 10 but all 10 members of the committee were picked up by police and detained without trial.

Khuzwayo was held in the Johannesburg Fort for five months.

Her activities included being president of the Black Consumers' Union and serving on the executive committee of the Urban Foundation.

She has published Call me Woman (1985) and Sit and Listen: Stories from South Africa (1996).

In 1979 The Star newspaper named Khuzwayo Woman of the Year. The Universities of Natal, Port Elizabeth and Witwatersrand awarded her honorary doctorates in recognition of her remarkable work.

In 1994 Khuzwayo was appointed an ANC member of Parliament.

She died on April 19 2006 at the age of 91.

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