THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 7th April 1874 – Charlotte Makgomo Maxeke (n?e Mannya), a political activist, was born in Ramokgopa in the Polokwane District, South Africa.

Maxeke attended Wilberforce University in Ohio, United States after being offered a scholarship, becoming South Africa’s first black woman graduate. She met her husband Marshall Maxeke while at the university, and they returned to South Africa together to found the Wilberforce Institute.

Maxeke attended the launch of the South African Native National Congress, later to become the African National Congress, in Bloemfontein in 1912. A year later, following the first attempt to make women carry passbooks, Maxeke helped to organise anti-pass law demonstrations in Bloemfontein in 1913. By 1918 she had founded the Bantu Women’s League (BWL) which later became the African National Congress Women’s League in 1948.

As the South African government persisted with the requirement that women should carry passes Maxeke led a BWL delegation to the Prime Minister, Louis Botha and continued to organise passive resistance against the application of pass laws to African women.

The resistance was successful and in 1922 the South African government agreed that African women should not be obliged to carry passes, though legislation was still introduced in 1923 that curtailed rights and freedom of movement for African women.

Maxeke passed away on 16th October 1939
The following video is a short narrative on the history of women in the struggle against apartheid:

Amma Fosuah
“Always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.” Amilcar Cabral

By: Amma Fosuah.

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