“Anger can just consume you, anger is energy. I needed to divert and channel that energy into something positive”
Freedom Fighter. Mother Figure. CEO. Doctor. Women Empowerer. Political Activist. Exiled. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. Thought Leader. Dr T.
Sometimes it’s worth reflecting on what you have achieved and experienced in life. History has a strange way of repeating itself and it’s those who are aware of it, who will progressively move forward by learning from previous mistakes.
Our guest this week, Dr Thandi Ndlovu, is the epitome of somebody who has put other people’s lives before hers. From a young age, she was a mother figure and would take women under her wing and offer safety and guidance. These traits came very naturally to her.
Dr Thandi, is one of the most remarkable ladies you will ever meet, her story is truly incredible and dynamic, especially when we start to unpack the events of her life. She was born and raised in Soweto, South Africa. She grew up as the middle child of 5 kids, in a loving and nurturing household. She was always an avid reader and scholar.
Dr Thandi, was subject to one of the most inhumane periods of our times, Apartheid in South Africa. On the 16th June, 1976 there were events which occurred in South Africa which will never be forgotten. What started as a peaceful demonstration of students marching for their educational rights, ended up in barbaric bloodshed during the Soweto Uprising. Dr Thandi’s brother, Hastings, was one of those fatalities.
In her struggle for freedom she went into exile and wasn’t to return to South Africa for another 14 years. This liberation movement needed to expose what was really going on in South Africa, with the hope of one day returning to her beloved country, as a totally free person in a democracy.
Most of her exile was spent in Zambia but she was also stationed in Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania and the USSR. She trained up in Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), which was the ANC military wing. Part of her training was also in the USSR, where she was sent for a year to attend Communistic and Socialistic school.
During her time in Zambia, she studied medicine and graduated as Doctor. It was in her last year, when she got the news that the ban had been lifted and people in exile were allowed to move back.
This conversation is teeming with stories like, growing up in Soweto, meals of chicken feet and pork knuckles, street games, the suppression of black people’s rights, walking across country borders into exile, the disgraceful act of bantu education, communist training in the USSR, and how the ANC was run while in exile.
These days, Dr Thandi or Dr T, as she is more affectionately known by her employees, is the CEO of a multi-billion Rand (South African Currency) construction business, whose primary focus is developing low cost housing. She also runs the Dr Thandi Ndlovu Children’s Foundation.
The story above ended in 1991. Part 2 and the rest of Dr Thandi’s journey and story is coming in a few weeks.
We hope you enjoy Part 1 of this conversation as much as we did.
Let’s find out what it means for Dr Thandi Ndlovu to be Ridiculously Human.
Your fellow beings
Craig and Gareth
Other relevant points discussed and mentioned:
Radio Station – Power FM
Phutu – mealie meal
Soweto Uprisings – June 16, 1976
SASO – SA students Organisation
South African Homelands
Battle of Isandlwana
International Defense and Aid Fund – NGO based in UK
June 16 Detachment Group
Cubans in South Africa
Border War in South Africa
MK – Umkhonto We Sizwe the military wing of the ANC
South African Indian Congress
ANC. The Women’s Secretariat (Now ANCWL)
Freedom Charter of 1955
The Bambuseae Rhythm Section – Check them out here
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