Ambassador Lindiwe Mabuza was a humanitarian, and without guilt, she served our country and its people with distinction for more than half a century in various functions during both the struggle for our liberation and the democratic system of government. After our country’s liberation in 1994, she was one of the first women commissioned to represent our country as ambassadors.
She has been a strong supporter of our organization and we regularly rely on her to advise us as a member of our Board of Advisors.
Below we publish a comprehensive biography of Lindiwe Mabuza as published in her collection of poems and writings, rope and snake, which best captures her life, work, achievements and awards. The collection was her tribute to the late ANC president, Oliver Reginald Tambo, the late Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and her dear brother and comrade, President Thabo Mbeki.
Lindiwe Mabuza was born in Newcastle in the former province of Natal now known as KwaZulu-Natal. After receiving her matriculation, she went on to study at Pius XII University College, Rome, Lesotho, and then an affiliate of the University of South Africa, which is today known as the University of Lesotho.
On a scholarship, I went to Grellville Community College, Loveland, Ohio, USA, where I got a diploma in Home Economics. She returned to Rome to complete her bachelor’s degree, majoring in English and Zulu literature, graduating in 1961. She became a teacher and taught English, biology, and Zulu literature at Manzini Central School, Swaziland.
As a Fulbright Scholar in 1964, she proceeded to earn a Master of Arts degree in English Literature Education from Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, graduating in 1966. She continued her studies and received another MA in American Studies from the University of Minneapolis, Minnesota .
In 1968 she took a lecture position in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota which enabled her to teach black literature and South African history within the African-American community to adolescents during summer vacation at The Way Center, north of Minneapolis. In 1969, she became Assistant Professor of Literature and History at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio at the Center for African American Studies, where she placed in curricular courses in both literature and history with a focus on historical grievances in the United States, South Africa, the Caribbean, and Palestine .
In January 1977, she made a huge leap, leaving her job that was guaranteed to her position, to work for the African National Congress (ANC) on a full-time basis.
At the movement’s headquarters in Lusaka, she is assigned to work as a radio journalist with ANC Radio Freedom broadcasting to South Africa from Radio Zambia studios. She became the editor-in-chief of the magazine, woman’s voice (VOW), Chairman of the ANC Cultural Committee charged with the specific task of ensuring the development of Amandla, the ANC’s cultural group, for international mobilization against apartheid and support for the ANC. There were two Amandla tours, each covering six countries, as well as fundraising campaigns to build the ANC’s flagship project, Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (Somafco), in Mazimbu, Tanzania.
In 1979 she was appointed by O.
After this success, she was transferred to the United States where she opened the ANC office in Washington, DC. She served as the main representative of the ANC in that country from 1989 to 1994. During her tenure, the first visit of the United Democratic Front delegation led by Mrs. Albertina Sisulu as well as the historic visit of Mr. Nelson Mandela took place.
Also during this period, in 1993, she obtained a Diploma in Diplomacy from the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With the dawn of a new democratic South Africa, she became a member of South Africa’s first democratic parliament where she served from 1994 to 1995 on the arts and culture committees as well as foreign relations.
President Nelson Mandela appointed her as ambassador to Germany from 1995 to 1999. Under President Thabo Mbeki, she was appointed as High Commissioner for Malaysia and Brunei and as a non-resident ambassador to the Philippines (based in Malaysia) from 1999 to 2001. There, the drama of the hostage crisis unfolded with two nationals of South Africa, Kali and Monique Strydom, are stuck in the middle. In the end, they were released safely in her diaper.
From 2001 to 2009 she was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. She has received a number of local and international awards, including:
- Doctor of Philosophy (Hons) 1997 from the University of Durban-Westville in South Africa;
- Yari Yari Award for Contribution to Human Rights and Letters from New York University in 1997;
- Honorary Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 2003;
- Diplomat of the Year award in 2009, while serving as High Commissioner for South Africa to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland;
- Ikhamanga National Medal, South Africa’s highest honor, 2004; And
- Lifetime Achievement Award for the Defense of the Arts in 2017 by the Arts and Culture Trust of South Africa.
Mabuza was a prolific writer who published a number of books and several volumes of poetry.
Launched and edited an anthology of poems by ANC women entitled our end in 1980 (which have been translated into German and Russian) and a volume of short stories by ANC women in exile, Nobody ever knowsIn 1989. She also issued three booklets for children: Mbendi, Joja, Mbendi and the Flying Machine And From A to Z Animals of South Africa (2007).
As I Began and Gathered (Edited by Pallo Jordan) Remembers Oliver Tambo, a collection of articles by 80 contributors celebrating OR Tambo’s 90th birthday.
As a board member of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, she launched the book, co-edited by Dr. Sefiso Ndlovu and Miranda Strydom, Thabo Mbeki I know. She compiled, compiled and edited a collection of letters to “Uncle or Tambo” by those who met him, as children and youth in exile, entitled Conversations with Uncle or Tambo – Childhood Memoirs from Exile (2018).
It includes her own anthology of poetry message to lita, (1991); Africa for me, (1998); pioneering voices, (1998); footprints and fingerprints, (2008); And From the ANC to Sweden, (1987).
For more than a decade, Ambassador Mabuza has served as a member of our foundation’s advisory board. We are honored to have the opportunity to benefit directly from her good experience, and very honored that the name of our organization was associated with someone of her caliber and stature.
The Patron of TMF, President Thabo Mbeki, the Board of Directors and the staff would like to convey our deepest condolences to Ambassador Mabuza’s family and fellow cultural workers here at home and around the world.
I hope her soul rests in peace. DM