UKZN’s living legend of medicine, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, recalls how her father emphasised education for girls

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Nov 9, 2022


Durban – Recalling how she got to be a medical doctor and later a female politician, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said her late father always wanted young girls to be educated just like boys.

The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs also recalled how her father always treated boys and girls equally.

Dlamini Zuma, Prof Miriam Adhikari and Prof Malegapuru William Makgoba were on Wednesday invited to take part in the bi-annual series of On the Couch with Living Legends in Medicine. It is hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Clinical Medicine (also known as the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine).

The aim of this event is to celebrate esteemed legends and UKZN medical school alumni while they are still alive.

During her turn to speak, Adhikari, a physician and scientist specialising in paediatrics with a focus on neonatology, recalled how she got into the profession and the work they did to save newborn babies.

She recalled how she was hurt when she could not save some babies and how HIV hit their unit hard when breastfeeding moms could not share their breast milk.

“Then came the story of HIV, one of the worst things that had ever hit us. Now, what we did in the neo-natal unit was we shared maternal milk.

“If a mother was ill, we would find a baby with the same gestation age to share milk … I (also) gave milk when my babies were born …

“Now HIV came, so I asked one of our ladies in the lab of our medical school to test the milk and there was HIV in the milk and we could not share it.

“So we set up milk flushing at King Edward, and we had milk banks for the hospital around us, set up milk banks right up to Port Shepstone,” she recalled.

Makgoba, the immediate past chairperson of the Eskom board who is also a former vice-chancellor of the same university, narrated how a British professor encouraged him to stay in the public service where he could do better than in the private sector.

He said when the professor retired, he opted to go and work in England before coming back to South Africa.

Getting her turn to speak, Dlamini Zuma who is also running for the ANC’s presidency next month, said her father wanted them as girls to be academically empowered so that they could weather any storm.

“His view and my mother’s view was that education was very important, that education would take us out of poverty, that education would be an equaliser in a way.

“So, I grew up in a family where education was valued, but my father would go further to say girls have to have education because I don’t want them sitting in a toxic relationship because they can’t walk away or they lose their husband or they turn a blind eye when the stepfather is abusing the children because they can’t walk away.

“He also treated us the same. We were five boys and three girls and he didn’t favour the boys more than the girls. He said they are all equal,” Dlamini Zuma said at the gathering held at the Westville campus of UKZN.

[email protected]

Current Affairs