Monday, June 9, 2014

Farewell to Epainette Mbeki

Former president Thabo Mbeki's 98-year-old mother Epainette has died.  The Mbeki family confirmed that the matriarch had died at a private hospital in East London in the Eastern Cape.  She was admitted to hospital two weeks ago for medical observation after she experienced respiratory problems.  

Epainette Mbeki was born in February 1916 in Mangoloaneng at Mount Fletcher, Transkei.  She taught at the Taylor Street Secondary School after being educated at the Mariazell Mission, the Lovedale Teachers college and graduating from the Adams College in Durban.  She taught with Govan Mbeki, whom she later married. In 1937, Epainette Mbeki became the second black woman to join the Communist Party of SA, after Josie Palmer.

  She then became an active member of the liberation movement in Durban. She married Govan in 1940 and moved to the Transkei where the family set up a trading store in the Idutywa district.  The store earned the family a living and was run by Epainette Mbeki after her husband became involved in national politics.  The couple had four children, Linda, Thabo, Moeletsi and Jama. Epainette Mbeki raised them and contributed to her husband's newspaper, Inkundla ya Bantu. Epainette Mbeki was also a founding member of the National African Chamber of Commerce.

After Govan was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Rivonia Treason Trial, Epainette's children Thabo, Moeletsi and Jama went into exile. She remained at Mbeluweni and kept the store open. She was continuously harassed by the authorities. She moved to Ncgingwane in 1974, closer to the town of Dutywa where she continued to work as an activist for social upliftment and re-opened the family shop. 

 She continued to work toward uplifting her community until her death, supervising her many projects and giving advice to those who sought it.  In her later years, Epainette Mbeki - by then affectionately known as MaMbeki - ran a beadwork and sewing programme in her community.

Condolences to the family and friends of MaMbeki.  May she Rest in Peace 

No comments: