Bio of the Week

Ms. N. Thoko Mpumlwana

"I want my children to know that our past violent society left permanent scars and that the future is in building social cohesion in a society still divided on racial, sexist, ethnic, and class lines

"I want my kids to 'imagine' and work towards a non-racial and non-sexist society. Patriarchy lives and its effect is felt by women of South Africa every day."

Nandisile Thoko Mpumlwana is the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality with an educational background in teaching from the University of South Africa and the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. Mpumlwana was also awarded an MA in Curriculum Development and Teacher Education from Michigan State University in the United States. 

Although Mpumlwana’s career has focused largely on teaching and promoting education, her outstanding commitment to justice is of extraordinary importance in her life and those whom she fights for. Her activism is mainly focused on political justice, human rights, and the rights of women and children. She places a strong emphasis on getting South African youth to vote and be more politically active, giving them a voice and building the young democracy through the young population. Mpumlwana’s social action is seen through serving on boards of the Independent Development Trust, the Foundation for Human Rights, the Women’s Development Foundation, and the South African Women in Dialogue. 

Thoko Mpumlwana was a co-founding activist of the Black Consciousness Movement, alongside Bantu Stephen Biko.  Mpumlwana was involved in innumerable forms of activism and promotion of the Black Consciousness Movement, such as being an editor for the Black Review; an annual publication that Biko launched in 1972 geared towards black political leaders. After Biko’s death, in October of 1977, when Black Consciousness organizations were banned, the members of the Movement scattered so as to avoid further banishment or imprisonment. The dispersion of location did not stop the members from continuing the the Black Consciousness fight. Mpumlwana stayed in King William’s Town to expand the Ginsberg Educational Trust, which later became known as the Zingisa Educational Project. 

After Biko’s death Mpumlwana and her husband Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, continued with the Black Consciousness Movement. Together they wrote the introduction of the 2002 edition of I Write What I Like. Biko’s influence on the South African black community would not have been possible without the dedicated Black Consciousness activists that were by his side, and Mpumlwana was with him all the way and continues to uphold these ideals and beliefs today.

Co-founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, a political leader, a powerful voice fighting for the empowerment of women, children and blacks in South Africa, Nandisile Thoko Mpumlwana was, is, and will continue to be a critical asset to the fight for justice and equality in South Africa. 

We Salute You.


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