with aunty Aggie at Luthuli House ANC Headquarters in Johannesburg – 2000s

Hamba Kahle* uMama Agnes “Aunty Aggie” Msimang

Our mother and comrade Agnes Msimang has passed away.

Aunty Aggie dedicated her life to the struggle for liberation,

she spent decades in exile with young children and faced the pain and difficulties of a life in exile – distanced from her country and family. 

Aunty Aggie was a second mother not to just me, but to all ANC exiles in India who took shelter and received unconditional love and motherliness from the amazing, caring, politically principled woman that she was – and all under the harshest of circumstances of exile.

Aunty Aggie returned from exile with our family and continued to work in the African National Congress (ANC) till the last days of her life. 

Her life of selfless struggle, her love for all, her unwavering stance as a revolutionary, her life as a freedom fighter for the noble cause of liberation from Apartheid tyranny and oppression, must serve as an inspiration to the younger generation who breathe the air of freedom because of the sacrifices of people like aunty Aggie and so many others. 

Aunty Aggie will always be a very special part of who I am as a person.

She was indeed a motherly figure who offered comfort and solace when times were hardest during our years in exile, forced to leave her home to fully immerse herself into the revolutionary movement against Apartheid.

Today we pause,

today we reflect,

today we give praise and shed tears of deep grief and sorrow in this most heartbreaking of times.

It is never easy to share ones sentiments about a person so close to our hearts who has passed away, but with aunty Aggie I will always be her “sweetiepie” and she will always remain my mother, my beloved aunt, my strength and my inspiration to try and my best to emulate her principled belief in freedom and justice for all, in the values of non-racialism, and to be a true human being. 

I have never managed to come even close to the principles and values imparted to me by my beloved aunty Aggie, but I pledge once again to honour her life by continuing to try to live as aunty Aggie would have wanted to me live – a life of always speaking out and struggling to fight injustice wherever it may be found, and to stand firm and with one’s head held high no matter what this harsh world may throw our way. 

Rest in peace, respected aunty Aggie.

The example you have shared with countless comrades shall never fade.

You will continue to live within us all – your children and your comrades.

Hamba Kahle* uMama Agnes Msimang!

Long live the revolutionary spirit of Comrade Agnes Msimang!

The Struggle Continues!

Viva the spirit of the women Viva!

* – Hamba Kahle – an isiXhosa and isiZulu term meaning “travel well” – often used when bidding a departed one adieu.

with aunty Aggie in exile in India – mid 1970s