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Struggle icon and poet Lindiwe Mabuza dies

Former diplomat, freedom fighter and poet Lindiwe Mabuza has died at the age of 83.

Mabuza died on Monday at her home, surrounded by her family.

“It is with the greatest sadness that we announce the passing of our matriarch, ambassador Lindiwe Mabuza. She passed away… in the loving company of her family. The family is grateful for all your prayers and outpouring of love during these past weeks whilst she has been receiving palliative care at home, where she wanted to be,” Mabuza’s family said in a statement.

Mabuza was a college-level educator, radio journalist, editor, as well as a prolific poet and short-story writer, the ANC said in a statement.

“Almost all these callings pointed towards one goal, which was to abolish apartheid in South Africa,” the statement read.

Mabuza was born in Newcastle, KwaZulu- Natal, in 1938. She studied at Roma University in Lesotho, and after graduation went on to teach English and isiZulu literature. She wrote five volumes of poetry, short stories and a children’s book.

She joined the ANC in 1975 and became a journalist for Radio Freedom, based in Lusaka. Her concern with women’s issues led to her involvement with Voice of the Women (VOW), the ANC’s feminist journal, which encouraged women to write poetry.

Mabuza had various roles within the party, promoting culture within the resistance movement.

Former ANC president Oliver Tambo assigned her to open the first ANC representative office for Scandinavia in 1979. She became the first ANC chief representative in that region and was based in Sweden. Following the bombing on the ANC offices in Stockholm, Sweden, in September 1986, Mabuza was transferred to the United States to become ANC chief representative.

She later became a member of Parliament in the first democratic Parliament before joining the diplomatic corps. Mabuza served as South African ambassador to Germany, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, and the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Mabuza, who the ANC described as a “cultural activist”, has several awards to her name, including the South African Order of Ikhamanga in Silver.

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