Celebrate Cachalia's life: ANCWL

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iol news pic Amina Cachalia

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Amina Cachalia was one of the activists who marched to the Union Buildings on the anti-pass issue in 1956. File picture: Phill Magakoe

Johannesburg - Amina Cachalia's life should be celebrated and emulated, the ANC Women's League said on Friday, following the death of the anti-apartheid and gender activist.

“The ANCWL would encourage modern young women to look to the life led by Comrade Amina and find inspiration,” the African National Congress Women's League said of Cachalia, who died in Johannesburg on Thursday, at the age of 82.

“From as early as her teenage years, she was aware of the political situation in the country, and instead of sitting back and accepting her circumstances, she became actively involved in the struggle.”

Cachalia had encouraged women to find ways to be financially independent of men so that they were not forced to rely on anyone.

“This is a lesson we can carry forward today that still holds relevance, as many women remain in abusive relationships due to their financial reliance on abusive men.”

Among Cachalia's achievements was her role as a founding member of the Federation of South African Women, which included Lilian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph, who were at the forefront of the women's anti-pass law march to the Union Buildings in 1956.

She also made a difference in the struggle against apartheid and would be sorely missed. She was an inspiration for generations to come, the ANCWL said.

It will hold a memorial service for Cachalia at the Parkview Sports Complex at noon on Thursday.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) sent its condolences to her family, friends and comrades, and said a “heroine” and “fighter” had been lost.

“Her generation planted the roots of freedom and equality that need to be nurtured by the present generation,” said Nehawu spokesman Sizwe Pamla.

“Our union dips its banners in honour of Amina Cachalia and calls on all South Africans to continue her work of fighting for the emancipation of women.”

Cachalia was buried on Thursday night in accordance with her family's religious practises.

Earlier, the June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation convey its condolences to her family, friends and comrades.

“We understand how difficult this time must be for them. We know how much comrade Amina Cachalia meant to you,” it said.

Cachalia was born on June 28, 1930, in Vereeniging, and was the ninth of 11 children.

Her family's tradition of political activism dates back to her father Ebrahim Asvat's close association with Mahatma Gandhi and the first passive resistance campaign of 1907.

Her father was Gandhi's companion and the chairman of the Transvaal British Indian Association, forerunner of the Transvaal Indian Congress.

Cachalia went to school in Durban and returned to Johannesburg in 1947, when she worked in a number of jobs, including one as a secretary in a garment factory.

She spent 15 years in the 1960s and 1970s under house arrest, following three consecutive banning orders by the apartheid regime.

Her work included forming the Women's Progressive Union to foster training, skills development and the financial independence of women.

She was a member of the Indian Youth Congress and the Indian Congress. During the Treason Trial of the 1960s, when many anti-apartheid leaders were jailed for life, she helped look after the trialists' dependants.

She was elected an MP in the National Assembly, in the first democratic elections of 1994.

Ten years later, she received the Order of Luthuli in bronze for her lifetime contribution to the struggle for gender equality, non-racism and a free and democratic South Africa.

Sapa


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