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Walter Sisulu: Wikis


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Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu

In office
1949 – 1954
Preceded by James Arthur Calata
Succeeded by Oliver Tambo

Deputy President of the African National Congress
In office
July, 1991 – 1994
Preceded by Nelson Mandela
Succeeded by Thabo Mbeki

Born May 18, 1912(1912-05-18)
Engcobo, Transkei (now Eastern Cape), South Africa
Died May 5, 2003 (aged 90)
Political party African National Congress
Spouse(s) Albertina Sisulu

Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu (May 18, 1912 – May 5, 2003) was a South African anti-apartheid activist and member of the African National Congress (ANC).

He was born in Engcobo in the homeland of Transkei (now part of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa). His mother Alice Sisulu was a domestic worker and his father, Victor Dickenson, was a white civil servant. [1] Educated in a local missionary school, he left in 1926 to work. He moved to Johannesburg in 1928 and experienced a wide range of manual jobs. He joined the ANC in 1940. In 1943, together with Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, he joined the ANC Youth League, founded by Anton Lembede, of which he was initially the treasurer. He later distanced himself from Lembede after Lembede (died 1947) had ridiculed his parentage (Sisulu was the son of a white foreman). Sisulu was a brilliant political networker and had a prominent planning role in the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation"). He was made secretary general of the ANC in 1949, displacing the more passive older leadership, and held that post until 1954.

As a planner of the Defiance Campaign from 1952, he was arrested that year and given a suspended sentence. In 1953, he travelled to Europe, the USSR, Israel, and China as an ANC representative. He was jailed seven times in the next ten years, including five months in 1960, and was held under house arrest in 1962. At the Treason Trial (1956 - 1961), he was eventually sentenced to six years, but was released on bail pending his appeal. He went underground in 1963 but was caught at Rivonia on July 11. At the conclusion of the Rivonia Trial (1963 - 1964), he was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 12, 1964. With other senior ANC figures, he served the majority of his sentence on Robben Island.

In October 1989, he was released after 26 years in prison, and in July 1991 was elected ANC deputy president at the ANC's first national conference after its unbanning the year before. He remained in the position until after South Africa's first democratic election in 1994.

In 1992, Walter Sisulu was awarded Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, the highest honour granted by the ANC, for his contribution to the liberation struggle in South Africa.

He married Albertina in 1944. The couple had five children, and adopted four more. Sisulu's wife and children were also active in the struggle against apartheid.

The government of India awarded him Padma Vibhushan in 1998. Walter Sisulu was given a "special official funeral" on 17 May 2003.

In 2004 he was voted 33rd in the SABC3's Great South Africans.

External links

Further reading

  • I Will Go Singing: Walter Sisulu speaks of his life and the struggle for freedom in South Africa / In conversation with George M Houser and Herbert Shore (Cape Town: Robben Island Museum, 2000) This book is based on extensive interviews conducted with Sisulu in 1995. See George Houser



Simple English

Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu (18 May, 1912 - 5 May 2003) was a South African freedom fighter. He fought against apartheid. Sisulu was the Secretary-General of the African National Congress from 1949 until 1954. Over the next 10 years he was put in prison seven times. He was one of many people, including Nelson Mandela to be found guilty of treason during trials between 1956 and 1961. He was sent to prison for 6 years because of this. While free on bail, he went into hiding. He was found in 1963 and put on trial again. In 1964, he as sent to prison for the rest of his life. He was released from prison in 1989. In 1991, he became the Deputy President of the African National Congress. He held the position from July 1991 until 1994.


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