Nana Henrietta Moabi (1938 - )
The Order of the Baobab in
Profile of Nana Henrietta Moabi
Nana Henrietta Moabi (nee Radadi) was born in Lichtenburg on 18 September 1938. She attended her lower primary school at Pax-Engwe, a Roman Catholic school near Pietersburg (Polokwane) and the St Mountford Convent in Louis Trichardt, as well as the Kilnerton Training College.
Exposed to the harsh realities of apartheid at an earlier age, she joined the Pan Africanist Congress in 1959, when it broke away from the ANC. Moabi participated in the 1960 Anti-Pass Campaign, and witnessed the Sharpeville massacre. Between 1960 and 1963, she served as health secretary for the PAC’s underground structures in Soweto.
She also became actively involved in the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) between the years 1968 and 1976, where her prior political and organisational experience came in handy, especially in mobilising the young people who had just joined the BCM without organisational experience.
She was actively involved in community programmes and is listed by the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa in the UN directory of NGOs for her work in the Mofolo Integrated Community Development Programme.
In 1968 she was recruited into the Poqo/APLA underground as an intelligence officer, gathering information about enemy movements to protect the APLA forces where they were active. From 1968 to 1976, Nana was active in the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), especially in Soweto.
She continued to gather intelligence and served as the underground liaison with APLA offices in exile. This was indeed no mean feat, as the act of gathering information on the state for a banned liberation movement’s armed wing constituted treason severely punishable by the laws of the apartheid state. She served in this capacity until the unbanning of the PAC in 1990.
Moabi’s ideological scope did not stop with the PAC and BCM, both of which were steeped in the nationalist struggles against colonialism; she was equally concerned with the lot of workers, especially black workers subjected to the harsh labour conditions under the apartheid system. She became an active member of the trade union movement. In 1987 she was elected President of the Black Domestic Workers’Association.
In 1995, shortly after the first non-racial order was introduced in South Africa, she formed part of the South African women’s delegation to the Beijing Conference. This was a groundbreaking conference that would look into universal issues.
Nana Henrietta Moabi has, throughout her adult and active life, fought for the achievement of equality and freedom in South Africa. She is among the few women who defied the gender impediments of the time to assert the right for the people of South Africa to be free from racism and sexism, believing in the values of human dignity irrespective of origins, colour or gender.