South Africa: Lillian Diedericks – Another Symbol of South Africa’s Forgotten Women Activists


It is worrying that after 1968 most sources are ambivalent about Lillian Diedericks. It is appalling that most of them do not question the downplaying of her leading role as a liberation activist.

“Tshepo mom Lillian Diedericks passed away this morning.” That was the text message sent to me, on Tuesday, 21 December at 6.44pm by mama Pinky Sithole, a longstanding member of the ANC. I met mama Sithole as part of my on-field research regarding “Naledi Township’s obscurity apropos the 1976 Uprisings”, in Soweto. Mama Sithole and her younger comrade, Fundi Skweyiya, are acknowledged as my key interlocutors concerning Lillian Lily Diedericks (1925-2021).

The crux of our dialogues consisted of lamenting against the marginal reminiscence about Diedericks. This concern extended to other womxn activists, in the long durée of South Africa’s body politic, as contributors to the local liberation struggle. A highlight from these dialogues was a reference to DRUM magazine’s 70th anniversary issue, which featured an interview with Diedericks (pages 50-51) conducted by Nosipiwo Manona.

Any shred of doubt I may have had from mama Sithole’s text message was shattered on Wednesday morning, 22 December. Diedericks’s death was trending on miscellaneous media outlets, such as SABC News, eNCA…



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