Lauretta Ngcobo

Photograph by Val Adamson

Lauretta Ngcobo is a South African novelist, born and raised in the rural community of Ixopo and educated at Fort Hare University. Ngcobo is well known as a feminist writer since the early 1950s though her work was only published in the 80s and 90s. She was an inspirational speaker during the 1956 women’s anti-pass march that was held across the country, when it was chanted “When You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock”.

In 1963 Ngcobo was forced to flee South Africa, escaping imminent arrest, and went into exile with her husband and children. She moved from Swaziland to Zambia, and finally settled in England where she worked as a teacher for 25 years. One of her many books, And They Didn’t Die, has been described as “the most enlightened and balanced book” about the history and personal anguish of the African woman. In 1994 she returned to South Africa after thirty-one years in exile.

Ngcobo was the winner of the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award from the South African Department of Arts and Culture in 2006 and the winner of the 2008 Order of Ikhamanga from The Presidency of South Africa for excellent achievement in the field of literature. Lauretta Ngcobo has shone a torch on the plight of women in Africa, giving voice and visibility to their struggles for many generations to come.

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