It was an early morning for members of the Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC) today as they gathered at the Sisulu memorial in the Diagonal Street Square, central Johannesburg, to pay tribute to Ma Sisulu, ahead of her burial on Saturday.
“Indeed it is a privilege to participate in a small memorial to such an exceptional woman, mother and South African, whose life touched, inspired and uplifted so many,” says JTC chief executive Lindiwe Kwele.
“With June 16th – Youth Day - around the corner, it is significant that in a month dedicated to inspiring and celebrating youth, we encourage our youth and our future leaders to acknowledge her great example and inspire others to follow it.
“Anecdotes about her nurturing concern for others abound and she is one of the finest examples of the spirit of ubuntu.
“As JTC we are proud of Johannesburg’s heritage which includes a significant role in the struggle history of our country and the fact that Joburg was – and still is – home to so many great South Africans.
“This certainly contributes to the interest people have in visiting, touring and exploring our great city.
The leadership shown by Walter and Albertina Sisulu spanned over 50 years and ultimately triumphed over apartheid.
They were husband and wife, lovers, life-long partners, and comrades in the struggle. Their remarkable pairing endured in the face of state harassment, frequent arrests and detentions, long separation and bitter oppression.
Through a public artwork commissioned in their honour by the City of Johannesburg in 2009, the example of Albertina Sisulu will continue to inspire those who visit this site for years to come.
The artwork sculpted by Marina Walsh pays tribute to the life-long partnership, both personal and political, of two Sisulus.
As shown through the artwork, the story of Walter and Albertina Sisulu is a great political love story.
As the inscription at the base of the sculpture says, ‘Through their enduring love and dedication, they became parents to the nation’.
Speaking in 2008, the Sisulu’s son Max said that his parents were not only his parents but the parents of all the children of their generation. He said: “We had to share everything – our parents, our home, our clothing and the little food we had – but this enriched all our lives.”
Sisulu sculpture in Johannesburg
The Sisulu sculpture was awarded via a public tender to Marina Walsh in April of 2009 and installed on the first of August 2009.
Located on Ntembi Piliso Street - between Market & Commissioner Streets - in the Joburg central business district, it is a two meter high concrete sculpture of Albertina and Walter Sisulu, seated opposite each other as well as facing the changing world around them.
Their bodies form a ‘love seat’ and they are of equal stature.
They are represented at the end of their respective careers in formal clothes, yet relaxed and happy to be with each other.
Their love for their many children and the extensive work that Albertina did in this area, is represented by the fact that their size is such, that children may and are encouraged to sit on their laps and become an interactive part of the art work.
Walter is facing the building in which he worked as an estate agent and where he fought for equal property rights for all races.
Johannesburg Tourism Company
Part of the City of Johannesburg, the JTC is a destination marketing organisation, dedicated to promoting tourism growth in Johannesburg.
The primary function of the JTC is to promote Johannesburg as a business, lifestyle, sport and leisure destination both locally and internationally.
Its operations include running a Convention & Events Bureau, a Visitor Services Bureau, as well as co-coordinating city-wide tourism marketing programmes tourism information gathering and analysis.
It has already been a very successful year for the organisation.
Indaba 2011 received rave reviews earlier in the year, while the upcoming Africa Fashion Week and Joburg Shopping Festival are sure to prove highlights later in the year.