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RIP Lauretta Ngcobo (1931 – 2015)

Let it be ToldAnd They Didn't DieProdigal DaughtersFiki Learns to Like Other People

 
Novelist and essayist Lauretta Ngcobo has passed away in Johannesburg.

The sad news was confirmed to Books LIVE by Ngcobo’s publisher, UKZN Press.

Ngcobo was born in 1931 in the rural community of Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, and later attended Fort Hare University.

Ngcobo was at the forefront of the women’s anti-pass marches in 1956, and was well known for her feminist writings throughout the 1950s and 60s – being critical both of apartheid and of Zulu traditions that restricted women’s freedom – although her work was first published in the 1980s.

Lauretta Ngcobo signsIn an interview with Craig Mackenzie and Eva Hunter for Between the Lines (2006), Ngcobo said: “A women is not only black, but at the same time must also submit to her husband, who, being oppressed, will find it necessary to oppress his women. Tradition reinforces this, and elevates man above women. In our tradition we find customs against which resistance is in vain, especially if one is an isolated individual or part of a restricted group.”

Ngcobo, who was married to Pan Africanist Congress founder Abednego Bhekabantu Ngcobo, went into exile in 1963. The family moved from Swaziland to Zambia and finally settled in England, where Ngcobo worked as a teacher for 25 years.

In 1981 her first book, Cross of Gold, was published, of which she said: “I was contemplating what had catapulted my life into exile and how it had all come about.”

Her other books include Let It Be Told: Black Women Writers in Britain (1987), And They Didnt Die (1990) and Fiki Learns to Like Other People (1994).

Ngcobo returned to South Africa in 1994 where she served as a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial legislature and information officer for the Inkatha Freedom Party.

In 2006, she received a Lifetime Achievement Literary Award from the South African Literary Awards, and in 2008 was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga for her “excellent achievement in the field of literature and through her literary work championing the cause of gender equality in South Africa”.

She will be missed.

 
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Image courtesy of eThekwini Living Legends

 

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