Charlotte Maxeke

Allison Clarke

Charlotte Manye Maxeke

1872-1939


Charlotte Manye Maxeke was born near Fort Beaufort on April 7, 1872. Growing up, she received a missionary education. Her family moved to Kimberley after the discovery of diamonds, and she became a teacher. She was a dedicated church-goer and toured England for 2 years with her choir.

Charlotte was the first African women graduate in South Africa and became the organizer of the Women’s Mite Missionary Society in Johannesburg. Because of her love for teaching, Maxeke and her husband worked to establish schools in many different areas. The Maxekes went on to teach and evangelise in many places, including Thembuland in the Transkei. While there, Maxeke participated in the King's court, a privilege that was unheard of for women. Maxeke is honored as the Mother of Black Freedom in South Africa.


Maxeke did many things to help further the anti-apartheid movement. In 1912, she attended the launch of the SANNC. She brought many concerns to their attention, mostly church-linked social issues. As an early opponent of passes for black women, Maxeke was politically active throughout her adult life. She helped organized the anti-pass movement in Bloemfontein in 1913 and founded the Bantu Women’s League of the SANNC in 1918. She also led a delegation to Prime Minister to discuss the issue of passes for women, and this was followed by a protest the next year. She was also involved in protests about low wages. Maxeke was involved in many multiracial movements. She addressed the Women’s Reform Club, an organization for the voting rights of women. She joined the Joint Council of Europeans and Bantus. Maxeke was also elected as president of the Women’s Missionary Society.

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"This work is not for yourselves-- kill that spirit of "self" and do not live above your people, but live with them. If you can rise, bring someone with you. Do away with that fearful animal of jealousy-- kill that spirit, and love one another as brothers and sisters. The other animal that will tear us into pieces is tribalism."

Source Citations

Millard, J. A. "Maxeke, Charlotte Manye 1872 to 1939 African Methodist Episcopal Church South Africa." MAXEKE, Charlotte Manye, South Africa, African Methodist Episcopal Church. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


"Charlotte (née Manye) Maxeke." Anonymous. South African History Online, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


Daymond, Maragaret J. "Women Writing Africa." Google Books. Feminist Press at CUNY, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.