Born on September 24, 1949, in Claremont, Durban, South Africa, Baleka Mbete’s early years were shaped by the embrace of her grandmother in Northern Transvaal. As she stepped into her first school, little did the world know that a formidable force in South African politics was emerging.
While details of her upbringing are scarce, Mbete’s indomitable spirit and self-assurance paved the way for her remarkable journey. As she approaches her 73rd year in 2023, Baleka Mbete stands as a symbol of resilience and determination.
Academic Odyssey: Unveiling Baleka Mbete’s Educational Tapestry
Embarking on her academic journey, Baleka Mbete attended a local primary school in Durban before circumstances led her to a boarding school. She later earned her diploma from Inanda Seminary in Durban in 1968. Post-high school, she delved into a teaching course at Lovedale Teachers’ College, obtaining her diploma in 1973. Her commitment to education was complemented by active participation in Black-consciousness campaigns in Durban. Subsequently, she pursued a postgraduate course in Framework for Governance, culminating in a degree from the University of Cape Town in 1998.
Beyond her graduation year, Mbete’s academic arsenal includes additional qualifications that underscore her commitment to knowledge acquisition.
Career Trajectory: From Teaching to Political Activism
Baleka Mbete’s professional journey began as a teacher at Isibonelo High School in KwaMashu, Durban. Her path took an unforeseen turn, with her fleeing on April 10, 1976. Teaching stints at Matter Dolorosa High School in Mbabane, Swaziland, and work for the ANC in various African cities marked this phase. Joining the ANC in 1976, she became the first secretary of the ANC’s women’s section in Tanzania in 1977.
From Tanzania to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, and back to South Africa in 1990, Mbete’s commitment to the ANC remained unwavering. Her diverse roles included overseeing writing and music at Medu Gaborone Arts Ensemble until 1985. Her extensive journey attests to her dedication to the anti-apartheid cause.
Political Stature: Baleka Mbete’s Positions and Resignation
Returning to South Africa in 1990, Baleka Mbete assumed various positions, ultimately becoming the Speaker of the National Assembly. However, in May 2019, she, along with Malusi Gigaba, withdrew from the list of ANC Members of Parliament scheduled for swearing-in. Her subsequent resignation from the party one day after the announcement marked a shift in her political trajectory. Thandi Modise assumed her role as Speaker of the National Assembly.
The latest news suggests concerns about Mbete’s political career, reflecting the dynamic landscape of South African politics.
Matrimonial Chapters: A Tale of Love and Unions
In 1978, Baleka Mbete married activist and poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, with whom she had two children: Duma Kgositsile and Nkuli Kgositsile. Following their separation, Nape Khomo became her second husband in 2016. The couple celebrated their union in Mqanduli’s Gumatana village on her 67th birthday. Despite the ten-year age gap, Baleka Mbete and Nape Khomo find happiness in their marriage.
Baleka Mbete’s journey is a testament to her multifaceted life, spanning academia, activism, and politics. As she navigates the complexities of her career and personal life, Mbete stands as a prominent figure in South African history, encouraging individuals of all ages to pursue their passions.