A tale of a remarkable woman

Zubeida Jaffer wrote Beauty of the Heart.

Ask any pupil or adult who Charlotte Mannya Maxeke is and you would in all probability find that the name doesn’t immediately induce a reaction of familiarity.

Award-winning journalist and author Zubeida Jaffer has, however, made it her mission to change this and give credit to our country’s first black female university graduate in her book Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke.

Ms Jaffer was first approached by renowned educationist Professor Jonathan Jansen to tell the story of Charlotte Maxeke.

The book took about two and a-half years to research and compile, and was launched on Thursday July 14.

Ms Jaffer said Ms Maxeke’s story was one that had to be told.

“Young girls need to hear her story. She was determined from a young age to seek education and obtained a BSc degree at Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1901. Many people don’t know that she was the only woman at the launch of the ANC in 1912 and she brought the AME church to South Africa. Her story deserves to be told,” said Ms Jaffer.

Wynberg-born Ms Jaffer is a writer-in-residence at the University of the Free State but has made some textbook worthy history of her own.

In 1980, at age 22, Ms Jaffer was a reporter for the Cape Times. The start of her journalistic career coincided with many upheavals that the country was facing including the anti-apartheid and the trade union movements.

As a young journalist, she reported on several police killings.

“I spoke to the family of those who were killed – not realising that I had put myself in a dangerous position,” she said.

Not long after the article was published, Ms Jaffer was arrested, kept in solitary confinement and tortured.

Her story can be read in her memoires, Our Generation, which was published in 2003.

In the foreword to Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, Professor Jonathan Jansen said the book tells the story of a remarkable South African woman: “A woman who has for long been written out of history and pushed aside in official school and university curricula. While this text does not pretend to be the definitive account of her life, it does, however, pull together and flesh out the different strands of her life in a way that has not been done before. It offers the reader an historical insight into a woman who deserves to be celebrated by all South Africans,” he said.

The book can be purchased through African Sun Media.

A “meet the author” pre-Women’s Day event will be held on Wednesday August 3 at Sabria’s Restaurant in Ottery Road, Wynberg, at 6.30pm.

The new book and supper are on offer at R300 a person.

For reservations or more information contact Natasha at 084 480 6388, 021 761 5247 or email sabriasmanagement@gmail.com