National Assembly: Cape Town, 9th June 2011
The news of Albertina Sisulu's passing last
Thursday left me with a sense of enormous loss. I and my wife,
Princess Irene, considered her a friend. But of course, she was much
more; she was one of the mothers of our democratic nation, birthing
freedom through her unbending faith and convictions.
It is true that there is no one more deserving of
the title "Mother of our Nation". Albertina blessed us with her
strength, both as an individual and in partnership with her beloved
husband, Walter Sisulu. They will remain South African icons.
Albertina and Walter were an inspiration to me
from a young age, not only in their politics but in their marriage.
Indeed, they gave us a love story that underpinned everything they
I shall forever be grateful to Mr Walter Sisulu
for the guidance he gave me as a young man when he, together with Inkosi
Albert Luthuli and Mr Nelson Mandela, advised me to take
up my hereditary position as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan. That was
more than half a century ago, but it began a lifetime of leadership
for me. Throughout the years that followed, I often leant on the
wisdom of men like Walter Sisulu.
Thus Albertina became someone I respected and
admired, for she so ably complimented her husband's strengths and
supported him through the many dark nights of incarceration,
suffering and exile. In the midst of their fight for our freedom,
Albertina managed to raise children of whom she and Walter could
later be very proud.
I thank God that she lived to see our freedom and
to serve in a democratic Parliament; which she did as she did
everything else, with distinction and integrity. I am also grateful
that, in the last seventeen years of her life, South Africa could
honour her and her husband for the more than seventy years they gave
to the liberation struggle. She deserved every accolade we gave her.
But the praises we bestowed on her in life, and
those we pour upon her memory now, pale in significance to the crown
she received as she stepped into eternity.
May the Lord comfort Albertina's children and
grandchildren; for in truth they are many. While our condolences go
to the Sisulu family, we know that across our nation there are
countless South Africans who consider themselves children and
grandchildren of Albertina Sisulu, because they sheltered in her
care and thrived under her warmth.
We thank the Sisulu family for giving us their