Mama Ruth as she was affectionately known was a humble, disciplined and dedicated champion of the people.
Ruth Segomotsi Mompati was born in Ganyesa Village in the District of Vryburg on 14 September 1925. In 1944, at the age of nineteen she started teaching at the Dithakwaneng Primary School near Vryburg. In 1948 she was transferred to the United School in Vryburg, where she continued her teaching career. When she got married in 1952 she lost her job as a teacher because the apartheid laws regulated that married black female teachers were not allowed to teach.
She moved to Johannesburg in 1952 and officially joined the ANC, becoming a member of the Orlando branch. In 1953 she took up employment as a secretary with the first black law partnership Mandela and Tambo, Attorneys at Law. Oliver Tambo, the former President of the ANC famously remarked that: “Sis Ruth is the best secretary we had”.
In 1954, she became a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC Women’s League and, together with Helen Joseph and Lillian Ngoyi, was among the founding members of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW).
Ruth Mompati was one of the central figures in organising the historic 9th August 1956 march by over twenty thousand women of all races, to Pretoria.
She was amongst the first women to join MK and underwent military training in the Soviet Union in 1963. While in exile she held office as Secretary and Head of the Women’s Section of the ANC. Between 1966 and 1973 she served on the Executive Committee of the Women’s Section.
In 1990, she was part of the ANC delegation that negotiated the peaceful transition to democracy.
In 1994, she was elected to the National Assembly and served as a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 1996. In 1996 she became the Ambassador to Switzerland and served in that capacity until 2000.
On her return to her hometown, Vryburg in 2000, she contested the position of Mayor of Naledi Local Municipality and she won with a handsome majority. She did an excellent job uniting the people of Naledi Municipality, which later honoured her by erecting a bust statuette for her efforts to consolidate the vision of a free society in the country she helped liberate. She served two terms as mayor and then left fulltime political deployment. She however, continued to serve the community in various capacities until her sad passing.
Mama Ruth is survived by her niece and several grandchildren, together with several other children that she nurtured as her own.
Source: GCIS http://www.gov.za/