Back to top

Gladys Ramahuta

The Order of the Baobab in

Gladys Ramahuta Awarded for:
Her outstanding contribution to community development, women’s empowerment, upliftment of the lives of rural ordinary people, and alleviating poverty through the creation of job opportunities.
Profile of Gladys Ramahuta

Gladys Ramahuta was born on 12 July 1932 into the Moloto family as one of the princesses of the Moloto Chieftainship in Limpopo. She attended school as well as trained for a teacher’s diploma at the then Grace Dieu College, which eventually became the Setotolwane College of Education. She consequently pursued a career in teaching.

Gladys got married to Ronald Ramahuta in 1954, who was also a teacher, a visionary and a generous and very supportive husband, with ideals of community development. They both believed in the power of education.

In 1972, Ramahuta resigned from her teaching career to pursue their businesses in Chebeng, Moletji, in Limpopo. They eventually built an enterprise (general dealer, eating house, bottle store and bar lounge, coal yard, chicken run, brick-making and many others) in which she was actively involved. This enterprise was at the same time an intervention because she realised the struggle of the people in her community, who walked long distances for basic necessities such as food and other goods.

In addition, Ramahuta drilled a borehole at her place and allowed the community to access clean water at very minimal cost (just so they value the resource), since there was no source of water in the community except rivers. She also requested the Post Office to provide a call office to enable the community to be in contact with the outside world. She ran the Sengatane Call Office, providing telephone access, telegram as well as mail services. She would be awakened some nights to call an ambulance or police, and for community members to report illness, deaths and related emergencies. Ramahuta also availed a private room at her business, which was rented by medical practitioners from Polokwane to see their patients.

In an attempt to create various opportunities in the village, she started a brick-making business, which offered job opportunities for both men and women, and which also enabled many community members to build their own houses with cement bricks and no longer just clay bricks. She also owned tractors, which were used in the village to cultivate mealies for subsistence.

Ramahuta also initiated a social club, which continued to further her ideals of women empowerment. They bought crockery, supported one another in raising children and in saving money for their families.

Because clinics and hospitals were far, Ramahuta availed her vehicles to transport sick people in the community to clinics and hospitals, including attending to late night calls for women in labour. She also assisted some poor families in the community with mealie meal, meat and vegetables at no cost, as basic necessities to bury their loved ones with dignity. She assisted children from relatively needy families as well as those of some family members, and she cared for them, providing shelter, food and school uniforms.

Ramahuta has received recognition for the compassionate efforts over the years for helping her people. These include the Tracy Malatjie Business Woman Award and community-builder recognition from the Limpopo-based radio station, Thobela FM.

Gladys Ramahuta has been a committed humanitarian, whose various projects created jobs for the community, and enabled families to put bread on the table. She is the true carrier of, and archetype of the spirit of Ubuntu, which emphasises love and care for your neighbour. Her example is a simple illustration of localised rural development and social cohesion.