Minister Nathi Mthethwa pays tribute to the late Phyllis Ntantala-Jordan

Mthethwa on SABC

“South Africa has lost a formidable activist and writer with the passing of Phyllis Ntantala-Jordan,” said Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Phyllis Ntantala-Jordan, a teacher and academic, passed away on Sunday at the age of 96 after an illness. She had been the wife of Prof AC Jordan and a mother of four children, that includes former Minister of Arts and Culture and MP, Pallo Jordan.

“Phyllis Ntantala-Jordan was a writer of note and has been described as a woman of extraordinary intellect. She was unflinching, free-thinking and a feminist; and she spoke and wrote the truth about our realities and about herself, ” said Minister Mthethwa.

In A Life’s Mosaic, her memoir, she said that: “I came from a family of landed gentry in the Transkei, the kulaks of that area. I could, like many others in my class, have chosen the path of comfort and safety, for even in apartheid South Africa, there is still that path for those who will collaborate. But I chose the path of struggle and uncertainty.”

As a revolutionary, she wrote many essays and articles and engaged in public lectures. Among these are An African Tragedy: The Black Woman Under Apartheid. In the campaigns against the Bantu Education Act in 1960, she wrote the “The Abyss of Bantu Education”. Other essays included, “The Widows of the Reserve,”  “Let’s Hear Them Speak” and “The Cruelty of Racism”.

She went to school at Healdtown and Lovedale and studied at the University of Fort Hare where she met her husband to be. She also studied at the University of Cape Town. She taught in Kroonstad.

The Jordan Family were forced to leave South Africa in the early 1960s on an exit permit. In 1961 Prof Jordan was awarded the Carnegie Travel Grant to tour Universities and Colleges in the United States of America. In 1962 Prof. Jordan was made the Head  of African Languages and Literature at the University of California’s Los Angeles campus and later at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He passed away after a long illness in 1968.

Phyllis Ntantala-Jordan’s varied career also extended to being a social worker and linguist. She was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by the University of Fort Hare.

She continued to share her life’s experiences through her writing and worked on several projects including folklore and translations.

“Our heartfelt condolences go to the Jordan family, to all her friends and those who admired her,” concluded Minister Mthethwa.

For comments, call: Lisa Combrinck at 082 821 4886

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