Cape Town - Langa’s stalwart and social activist Nobahle Jacobs Basse, popularly known as Mandlangisa, turns 100 years old at the same time as the township commemorates its own centenary.
Basse was born on November 28, 1923, when the Native Urban Areas Act came into force. It was also the year when Langa was born, making it one of the oldest townships in Cape Town.
She pursued her education at Blair Helen, furthering her studies at Lovedale College, where she established herself as an educator, and returned to teach at Blair Helen when her parents moved to the Western Cape.
She later found employment as a teacher at St Cyprian’s Anglican School in Langa, which was later renamed Zimasa Community School.
Basse is the sixth of seven children, and has five children of her own: Xola (who has since passed), Mandisa, Nobuntu, Mazibuko and Zandile.
Her grandchild, Bulelwa Basse, said that on losing her employment as a teacher when she got married – an enforced requirement for married women of her time – Basse found employment with the City of Cape Town as head of Gugulethu Crèche at Native Yard (NY) 50, and thereafter was transferred to the Langa Crèche, closer to where she worked until she retired in 1990.
“To be honest, my grandmother never wanted to live until her current age. She wanted to come into the world, play her part in the universe, touch lives, and be on her way gracefully.
“She’s a ‘ninja’ like that, but life had plans for her that transcended beyond the boundaries of time,” said Bulelwa.
She said her grandmother was thankful for the strength she’s had to not only raise her children but also to uplift her community of Langa Township, who sing praises of her tireless work as a social activist, educator of precision, and mother to the children of Cape Town who are now successful professionals and captains of industries.
“What I know, for sure, makes my grandmother happiest is seeing all her children as educated and self-sufficient as they are. She would often say to me, What is most important in life is to stand on your own two feet, to work hard and diligently, and to trust that God is in it all.
Basse has 12 grandchildren and a number of other grandchildren. On Saturday, a birthday celebration is planned for her to honour her for the role she has played in her community. She is currently admitted to the hospital for check-ups due to her frailty.