Lillian Ngoyi

Jamie Salvatore

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“Let us be brave: we have heard of men shaking in their trousers, but who ever heard of a woman shaking in her skirt?”


Lillian Ngoyi was a brave widow who fought strongly against apartheid in the mid-1900s. She went from a domestic servant to one of the leading figures of anti-apartheid in South Africa. She began by joining the ANC in 1952 and just a year later was elected president of the Women's League and later obtained the same position with the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW). However, eading marches was not enough for her, so in 1955, she and a few other women escaped South Africa on a boat to Cape Town under 'white names'. From there, they met with other female political leaders from all over Europe and Asia. Shortly after returning to South Africa, Ngoyi was arrested and held for 71 days which increased to 11 years under strict bans that confined her to house arrest.

Her legacy

Ngoyi was a leading figure of anti-apartheid, not just in her own country, but abroad as well. She played a renowned role in protesting the injustice that existed because of the apartheid laws. In doing so, she was arrested during the Defiance Campaign, as well as in Switzerland. Between these periods, she participated and led many marches and protests in her country against Bantu Education and the Pass Laws Act in particular. Her participation was not just in support of the movement, but with her leadership, she rallied other black, female voices and showed them their potential if they stood together. Abroad, Ngoyi gained global recognition of their fight when she met at the World Congress of Mothers held by the Women's International Democatric Foundation. Here she met with other left wing female activists to bring such politics back into her own country. In these abroad travels, she broke racial and geographical barriers and came home not only a wanted woman, but an even stronger leader.
Gauteng Authorities awarded Freedom of the City to women who marched against pass laws.


"Lilian Masediba Ngoyi." Jeeva. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

"Gauteng Authorities Awarded Freedom of the City to Women Who Marched against Pass Laws." YouTube. YouTube, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

"Black History Month: Lilian Masediba Ngoyi (1911-1980)." Womens History Network Blog Black History Month Lilian Masediba Ngoyi 19111980 Comments. 17 Oct. 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.