Charlotte Maxeke: Remembered in 5 quotes

The year 2021 marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of liberation struggle heroine and human rights campaigner, Charlotte Maxeke. Mam’ Charlotte Maxeke was born on April 7 1871 and passed away on October 16 1939. Along with being an anti-colonial struggle icon, she also wrote about the social issues facing black woman. She was the first black woman to graduate with a university degree in South Africa as well as the first black African woman to graduate from an American university. She is honoured as the ‘Mother of Black Freedom in South Africa’.

Here are five quotes to mark the anniversary of her birth.

“It is high time that the voice of black women be heard. They must ready themselves for a struggle.”

Zubeida Jaffer quotes Charlotte as saying this at a meeting in 1917

“This work is not ourselves. Kill that spirit of ’self’ and do not live above your people. If you can rise, bring some with you. Circulate your work and distribute as much information as possible, because this is not your Council, but the Council of African women from here to Egypt. Do away with fearful jealousy, kill that spirit and love one another as brothers and sisters. Stand by your motto: Do unto others as ye would that they should unto you.”

said at the second conference of the National Council of African Women (NCAW) in 1938 in Bloemfontein, a year before her death


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How can men liberate women from the pass laws if they themselves are subject to it?”

In 1913: She led the first march against the Pass Laws which was the forerunner of the 1956 Women’s March against the Pass Laws.

“Let me say this to you girls: It is the beauty of the heart and good behavior that will last until you go to the grave. Beauty is adorable when accompanied by other good things. Try to exercise self-control…”


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“We want men who are the salvation of the young girls of their nation, who can depend on their presence; we need men who will humble themselves, so that the nation may lift them up to be the stars of Africa for future generations. That is what Africa wants. That is what the women of Africa are weeping and praying for.”