In this series of blog posts, No Longer at This Address, we look at the personal histories behind the new road names in Durban, and with this Saturday being Women’s Day in South Africa it seemed only appropriate that we pay tribute to one of SA’s great female leaders, Lillian Masediba Ngoyi.
Lilian Ngoyi Road, previously Windemere Road, is named after the first woman elected to the executive committee of the ANC. Ngoyi, who went on to become president of the Women’s League, famously led the 1956 August 9th march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to protest against women being required to carry passbooks as part of the Apartheid pass laws. Strijdom Square, where the march originated, was renamed Lilian Ngoyi Square in 2006, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march.
In December 1956, Ngoyi was arrested for high treason along with 156 other leading figures, and stood trial until 1961 as one of the accused in the four–year-long Treason Trial. In the mid-1960s she was jailed under the 90-day Detention Act and spent 71 days in solitary confinement. Over the next decade Ngoyi was placed under severe bans and restrictions that often confined to her home in Soweto, and prevented her from earning a decent living.
Lilian Ngoyi suffered heart trouble and died on the 13th of March 1980 at the age of 69. This Saturday, 9th August 2014, let’s take a moment to acknowledge Lillian and the countless women who stood by her side to help make South Africa the free country that it is today.
Photograph courtesy of SA History Online. For more information on Lilian Ngoyi go to www.saho.org.za.