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Agnes Msimang

The Order of Luthuli in

Agnes Msimang Awarded for:
Her excellent contribution to the fight against the unjust laws of apartheid, she served selflessly and loyally to ensure freedom for all South Africans.
Profile of Agnes Msimang

Agnes Msimang is a veteran of the struggle who sees herself as a servant of the people. She stands for cherished African National Congress (ANC) values. Her children were raised on ANC policies and politics. Four of her children underwent military training as Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) cadres, served in ANC structures and two of them serve in the country’s democratic government. 

Msimang went into exile with an infant and two children under the age of 10 with the help of Walter Sisulu and Duma Nokwe. Like many other exiles, she struggled in the wilderness across Botswana and eventually ended up in Tanzania, where she took up a temporary teaching post for seven months. 

As a deputy chief representative in India, she started the Africa Club, which helped the South African youth learn their culture. She also trained Indian school children about the struggle for liberation, including the singing of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. She introduced the celebration of 16 June among the African and Indian youth. 

Msimang negotiated with the leadership of then President Desai of India for the Mandela Award, which was received by OR Tambo. She also accompanied the chief representative, Thomas Nkobi to Cuba to receive the Mandela Award. 

Msimang was elected to the ANC Women’s League executive. With this new role, she was recalled from India to Lusaka where she served as the Women’s League Deputy President. In her many deployments and other roles, she has always taken extra responsibility for children and Masupatsela, the ANC Youth Brigade. Msimang helped raise solidarity consignments for babies and women. 

Msimang’s homes in Tanzania, India and Zambia were open to students from southern Africa and to many MK cadres she was a mother and an aunty to many. She mothered many during the exile years, including many of the ministers in the new dispensation. Her health forced her to step down from more demanding tasks, and she returned home to serve as a champion of the bereaved committee of the ANC, reconnecting displaced persons with their families, as well as locating and bringing back the remains of cadres who died internally and in exile. 

Msimang loves to narrate moving stories about her comrades, the struggle of South Africa’s people for freedom, justice and equality. She reminds young people of where they come from and the future towards which they should aspire. Msimang looks forward to casting her vote in her beloved country’s fifth democratic national elections on 7 May 2014.