Dr Siphokazi Magadla presents Dialogue on women combatants during apartheid

Newly conferred Rhodes University Politics and International Relations lecturer, Dr Siphokazi Magadla , presents a Talk on “Yayi lixesha lento ayithethwa!"Women combatants and the armed struggle against apartheid this Wednesday at 6PM at the General Lecture Theatre (GLT). 

Dr Magadla will be in discussion with Makhosazana Xaba, writer and former combatant of Umkhonto we Sizwe and Londiwe Mntambo, Honours candidate, Politics and International Relations Department. The Talk is in partnership with the International Studies and Office of Equity and Institutional Culture, chaired by Noluxolo Nhlapo (Director of Equity and Institutional Culture).

Magadla teaches "Africa and the New Wars" and "African Theory" at post-graduate level. The outspoken native of eNgqeleni in the Transkei won a graduate student award from the US's National Association of Black Political Scientists. Speaking briefly on the upcoming talk, she explains that the three decades stretching from 1960 to 1990 marked the armed struggle that thrust women into the centre of the all-encompassing transnational anti-apartheid battlefront. 

“In my work, I argue that women of different ages and in different spaces and eras of struggle played a foundational role in the war against apartheid. But, the majority of women who fought in the armed struggle are not seen as combatants because the war is cast in conventional terms, despite the fact that both the national liberation movements and the response by apartheid state were unorthodox in nature,” she said.

She adds that the concept of guerilla war opens up room for the appreciation of women’s varied roles in war, both national liberation and feminist accounts of women’s roles reduce women’s contributions to auxiliary roles, even though these actions formed the central pillar of combat under conditions of guerilla warfare.

Her study is based on life history interviews conducted with 36 women who fought for Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) and Amabutho Self-Defence Unit.


Dr Siphokazi Magadla is a Lecturer in the Political and International Studies department at Rhodes University. She has worked as a research consultant for the Security Sector Governance programme of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, focusing on the role of women in peace and security.

She holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Ohio University, USA. She is a Fulbright Scholar. She was a fellow of the Social Science Research Council's Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Fellowship Program in 2013-2014, which provided the funding for her doctoral research.

She has written thought pieces for national media on matters such as The Deafening Silence of the EFF's Women Leaders,  Boko Haram: Beyond 'Rebels' and 'Terrorists': On the Chibok Girls and Post 9/11 Militarism as well as Eugene de Kock and the Violence of 'Nation Building and Reconciliation'.

Makhosazana Xaba is an anthologist, poet and short story writer who has won awards for her fiction writing. She is a PhD Mellon Scholar with Rhodes University working on Noni Jabavu. Xaba is a former combatant of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Londiwe Mntambo is an Honours Candidate in the Political and International Studies department at Rhodes University.

Source:  Communications

Please help us to raise funds so that we can give all our students a chance to access online teaching and learning. Covid-19 has disrupted our students' education.  Don't let the digital divide put their future at risk. Visit www.ru.ac.za/rucoronavirusgateway to donate