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Winnie Kgware (1917 - 1998)

The Order of Luthuli in

Winnie Kgware (1917 - 1998) Awarded for:
Outstanding leadership and lifelong commitment to the ideals of democracy, non-racialism, peace and justice.

Profile of Winnie Kgware

Winnie Kgware was born in Thaba Nchu in the Free State in 1917.

A teacher by profession, and resident at the University of the North (Turfloop) as the wife of the Rector, Kgware got involved in supporting students in their protests against government restrictions on campus. One of her early acts at the university was to organise a Methodist prayer group in defiance of an order that banned students from worshipping on campus. She gave sustenance to the student movement and in an ironic twist, allowed the rector's residence to be used as a meeting place for the University Christian Movement, an organization that was banned from the campus at the time.

In spite of the age gap between her and fellow activists, Kgware was valued for her strategic and emotional maturity and played a leading role in the launch of the SA Students' Organisation at the university in 1968.

Having moved to Kroonstad, Kgware became the first president of the Black People's Convention (BPC) formed in 1972 as an umbrella body of the black consciousness movement led by Steve Biko. The BPC was amongst the organizations that were banned in 1977.

One incident which demonstrated the determination of Kgware occurred in 1977 when the bus taking mourners to Steve Biko’s funeral in King William's Town was stopped by security forces. Kgware then 66 years old, evaded the police and determined to be at the funeral, hitched a lift all the way to King Williams Town.

The Umtapo Centre in Durban awarded the Steve Biko Award to Kgware in recognition of her role in the liberation struggle.