Zindzi Mandela was a South African poet and diplomat best known as the daughter of the famous anti-apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela. From 1996 to 1998, she also served as a temporary First Lady of South Africa. Over the years, she has been portrayed in films and TV films, such as Mrs Mandela (2009), Invictus (2009), and Mandela (1987).
Helen Zille is a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician. A former journalist, Zille played a major role in exposing the cover-up surrounding the death of Steve Biko, a fellow anti-apartheid activist. In 2008, she was chosen as World Mayor of the Year.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is a South African anti-apartheid activist, politician, and doctor. One of the most popular South African politicians of her generation, Dlamini-Zuma has served as the country's minister of health, minister of foreign affairs, and minister of home affairs at different periods of time.
Born to Lithuanian immigrants in South Africa, Helen Suzman studied commerce and economics, and initially worked as a statistician and a lecturer. A vocal anti-apartheid activist, she later worked for human rights causes and also oversaw the country’s first democratic election as an Independent Electoral Commission member.
Baleka Mbete is a South African politician who served as the deputy president of South Africa under President Kgalema Motlanthe. From 2014 to 2019, she also served as South Africa's Speaker of the National Assembly. One of the most controversial South African politicians in the recent past, Mbete is an associate of Tony Yengeni, who was accused of defrauding parliament.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Under-Secretary-General, was initially a teacher and has also worked at the World YWCA. A women’s rights activist, she works for gender equality and education and has established the Umlambo Foundation. She has also been the South African deputy president. Four of her five children are adopted.
South African activist/journalist Ruth First is remembered for her relentless fight against apartheid. Born to Latvian immigrants and founders of the South African Communist Party, First was later tried for treason and detained. While working at a Mozambican university in exile, she was assassinated in a parcel bomb attack
Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was a South African politician who served as the Deputy Minister of Justice from 1996 to 1999. She was appointed the minister of health under President Thabo Mbeki in 1999. She earned considerable criticism for suggesting the AIDS epidemic should be treated with easily accessible vegetables such as African potato, beetroot, and garlic rather than with antiretroviral medicines.
Educator Janet Smith is best remembered as the wife of former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith. Born to Scottish parents in Cape Town, Janet was a talented hockey player and later married a rugby player. Her first husband died in an accident during a rugby practice match.
Adelaide Tambo, also known as Mama Tambo, had decided to fight against police atrocities after witnessing her grandfather being falsely accused of engaging in riots. Initially a nurse, she grew up to be an anti-apartheid activist, founded various pan-African movements, and married African National Congress leader Oliver Tambo.
Dianne Kohler Barnard had a 23-year stint as a radio and print journalist before she plunged into politics. The South African politician who represents the Democratic Alliance is the MP from KwaZulu-Natal. A Facebook post made by her, that indicated she preferred life under the apartheid, almost got her expelled.
Politician, educator, and women’s rights activist Ellen Kuzwayo lost her family farm in Thaba Nchu, when the land was declared a whites-only area. She divorced her abusive husband and later related her ordeal in the CNA Award-winning book Call Me Woman. She had also been an African National Congress MP.
Victoria Chitepo, better known as the wife of Zimbabwe African National Union leader Herbert Chitepo, is remembered for her fight for Black rights and her association with the National Democratic Party. She had also been a minister of tourism and telecommunications. In 2016, she was found dead in her home.