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South African struggle icon Albertina Sisulu dies

world Updated: Jun 03, 2011 16:56 IST

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Albertina Sisulu, South African struggle icon popularly known as MaSisulu, has died at her home in Johannesburg.

She was 92.

Sisulu was the wife of African National Congress (ANC) stalwart Walter Sisulu, who died at the age of 90 in 2003.

"This evening marked the passing of Gogo (Granny) Sisulu. We are all deeply saddened by our loss. But glad she will be with the love of her life again. Gogo was watching the news this evening when she started bleeding from the mouth," her grandson Shaka Sisulu tweeted last night confirming the death.

Despite the label "Mother of the Nation" with which today's generation affectionately referred to Sisulu, few know that she initially had no interest at all in politics.

Orphaned while still a teenager, Sisulu gave up her plans to study teaching to look after her younger siblings. Later she trained as a nurse in Johannesburg, where she met her future husband.

Soon after their marriage, Walter was jailed for life and Albertina was first banned for five years, and then placed under house-arrest for 10 years by the white-minority apartheid government.

Sisulu was a founder of the Federation of South African Women in 1954 and the following year helped launch the Freedom Charter, which later formed the basis of South Africa's new Constitution.