For the competition. Nomarussia, meaning "mother of Russians" in Xhosa, a South African


By Sinazo Keswa

Nomarussia, meaning "mother of Russians" in Xhosa, a South African tribe, was bestowed with a name common among anti-Apartheid activists, symbolizing the support of Russia in training military combatants against Apartheid. Her father's interpretation of her name, "no more oppression," resonated deeply with her.

Born into the tumultuous era of Apartheid South Africa, Nomarussia Bonase's early life was marked by adversity. Before she was even born, her family faced the brutal reality of gender violence. Her pregnant mother, hidden in a farmworker's house due to laws restricting movement, fell victim to a state police raid, resulting in a traumatic assault. Despite being born prematurely amidst this violence, Bonase survived, setting the tone for her resilience in the face of oppression.

Her activism began in her youth, despite being denied the opportunity to attend university. Instead, she found employment in a transport company in Johannesburg, where she organized workers into a union, becoming their first shop steward. Disheartened by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's failure to address sexual violence, she joined the Khulumani Support Group and eventually became its National Coordinator.

The Soviet Union played a significant role in supporting oppressed peoples, including those in South Africa, during the Apartheid era. From 1956 to 1986, Soviet aid and training bolstered combat units from Namibia and Angola at ANC military training camps in Tanzania. However, by 1986, Gorbachev advocated for a negotiated settlement in South Africa, shifting away from revolutionary tactics.

For many ANC cadres, Moscow was a pivotal destination for military training, facilitated through discreet operations in Paris to evade South African intelligence. Angola, supported by the Soviets, faced off against Unita, backed by the USA and South Africa.

Nomarussia Bonase embodies the resilience associated with her name. A South African human rights activist, she received the Anne Klein Women's Award in 2017. As a union shop steward and member of the Khulumani Support Group, she tirelessly advocates for recognition and restitution for victims of Apartheid, organizing workshops and art therapy sessions, particularly in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre.

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