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4 June 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NURSES OF SOUTH AFRICA MOURN THE DEATH OF AN ICON:
NONTSIKELELO ALBERTINA SISULU

The nurses of South African mourn the passing on of Mrs Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu - an icon and a mother to the nursing profession through the window of nursing struggled for better health for all at the height of inhumane apartheid system.

“Mrs. Sisulu’s passing on has left a void and beckons to the conscience of all nurses; and those who continue to misrepresent the ethos of her profession, to come forward and stand in active solidarity at the side of the those who practice the profession with honour, as ‘Mama Sisulu’ did, in this hour of our grief,” says the Chairperson of the South African Nursing Council (SANC) Ms. Nonhlanhla Makhanya.

Born on the 21st of October in 1918 in Tsomo (in the former Transkei), Mrs. Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu joined the nursing profession after completing her training (Certificate in Nursing, 1944) at was known as the Johannesburg Non-European (now Chris Hani Baragwaneth) Hospital.  She worked at the Johannesburg Non-European Hospital as a nurse and later trained and obtained a Certificate in Midwifery (1954).  She contributed 43 years of her life to the nursing profession.

Through the window of nursing, Mama Sisulu was able to view with particular clarity fundamental struggles and tension that were taking place in South Africa at the time.  Nursing brought her to ‘the heart of South African conditions’ for in nursing she was confronted by the ‘intensity of the dynamics of race, class and gender’.

Mrs. Albertina Sisulu was a pioneer, using a climate of adversity as a driving force, for community-oriented nursing a model that would typify community-based primary healthcare in South Africa.

SANC says that her name stands besides the likes of Charlotte Maxeke – the first black woman to receive a Bachelor’s degree in 1907, Cecilia Makiwane – who in January 7 1908 became the first black professional nurse, Margaret Resha and Mary Malahlela who became the first female Black doctor in South Africa.

“One writer Kuper (1965),” continues Ms. Makhanya “noted; ‘Nursing bestows on an African woman new opportunities for freedom of individual development, but carries the burden of added responsibilities.  It brings them past the threshold of Western knowledge, but shuts the door of equality in their faces.’  The life of Mrs. Sisulu was a personification of this note.”

To the Sisulu family, in this hour of profound grief, we firmly stand by them and convey to them our heartfelt condolences, concludes Ms Makhanya.

ENDS

ISSUED BY:
MS JABULILE NONHLANHLA MAKHANYA
CHAIRPERSON: SOUTH AFRICAN NURSING COUNCIL


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