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Mildred Ramakaba-Lesiea (1933 - )

The Order of Luthuli in

Mildred Ramakaba-Lesiea (1933 - ) Awarded for:
Her excellent contribution to the struggle for gender equality and a non-racial, just and democratic South Africa.

Profile of Mildred Ramakaba-Lesiea

Mildred Ramakaba-Lesiea was born in 1933 in Langa in the Wynberg district of Cape Town. After leaving school due to financial constraints, she worked as a domestic worker in Sea Point. Lesiea joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1954 during the introduction of racist and retrogressive Bantu education and was an activist in community affairs for many years. In 1956, Lesiea was involved in the door-to-door campaign for the signing of petitions in the township against pass laws for women. She also served on a committee that promoted the We Stand by Our Leaders Campaign during the Treason Trial. In 1957, she was involved in the campaign against forced removals in the Western Cape.

In 1958, she served on the regional committee of the ANC in the Western Cape and joined the South African Communist Party. She was also involved in the Anti-Pass Campaign. After her release from detention in 1960, Lesiea became involved in the support and motivation of families of political detainees. In 1961, she was instrumental in organising the Federation of South African Women Conference held in Port Elizabeth. She was later detained again and banned for five years. Between 1972 and 1976, she was involved in the revival of women’s structures and also played a pivotal role in motivation and family counselling during the youth uprisings. As an active member of the United Democratic Front, she worked closely with the leadership of the Western Cape Civic Organisation. Lesiea contributed to the formation of the South African Youth Congress and mobilised youths, women’s structures and other organisations in the fight against apartheid.

After serving five months in detention during the State of Emergency, she did underground work for the ANC, which included mobilising communities to support the Black Xmas Campaign. After 1994, Lesiea served in the national steering committee of the ANC Women's League and was elected as a ward councillor from 1995 to1998. She is currently a Member of Parliament.