What really matters to you?
Twenty-four South African women were interviewed about their life, career and hope for the future for 200 WOMEN, a book and exhibition project by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday founded on the principle of gender equality comprising original interviews, with accompanying photographic portraits and videos by Kieran E. Scott. This landmark project is the realisation of an epic global journey to find two hundred women with diverse backgrounds, and to ask them what really matters to them. In this exhibit, we invite you to be inspired by these incredible women: 1. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 2. Graça Machel, 3. Nicky Asher-Pedro, 4. Audrey Brown, 5. Collette Dinnigan, 6. Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, 7. Joanne Fedler, 8. Qaqamba Gubanca, 9. Zelda la Grange, 10. Ronni Kahn, 11. Gail Kelly, 12. Zaziwe Manaway, 13. Zoleka Mandela, 14. Nokwanele Mbewu, 15. Hlubi Mboya Arnold, 16. Shanthie Naidoo, 17. Masako Osada, 18. Ingrid la Roux, 19. Caster Semenya, 20. Nomvula Sikhakhane, 21. Gillian Slovo, 22. June Steenkamp, 23. Mpho Tutu van Furth and 24. Sahm Venter.
#1: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Nomzamo Nobandla Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 1936–2018, was born in the former Transkei, South Africa. Because of her anti-apartheid activism, she was regularly detained by the South African government. She endured house arrest, torture and imprisonment in solitary confinement, and was banished to the town of Brandfort in 1977. Madikizela-Mandela was married to Nelson Mandela for thirty-eight years, twenty-seven of which he was imprisoned. In 1985, she won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for her role in South Africa’s liberation struggle. Madikizela-Mandela was a member of the South African Parliament and a member of the African National Congress’ national executive committee.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“It’s still a struggle to uplift the lives of women. As a result, our generation and the generation that followed us are still not as educated as our men; we’re still fighting for total equality.”
#2: Graça Machel
Graça Machel DBE was born in Gaza, Mozambique. She is an African stateswoman, a former freedom fighter and Mozambique’s first minister of education. She is the widow of Mozambican president Samora Machel and of former South African president Nelson Mandela. Among numerous awards, Machel has received the United Nations’ Nansen Refugee Award and is an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She is the founder of the Graça Machel Trust and several other organisations through which she advocates for women’s economic empowerment, food security and nutrition, education and good governance.
Graça Machel (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“I would love for people’s hearts to recognise the spark of life that exists in each one of us and the fact that this is what makes us equal. And to recognise that, because we are equal, no one has the right to humiliate, degrade or kill another. The mind is unlimited in its capacity, so I don’t think it is a stretch to imagine this.
I want everything that we do to be directed towards valuing, protecting and caring for life. Achieving this is not complicated – we have the means to reach hearts and minds – but the problem is that the means has been appropriated to speak to people’s materialism; people have become slaves to money. Instead, our primary concern must become the quality of who we are as human beings. We must bring to light the people who serve, who are defining their lives on the basis of the concept ‘I am because you are’.”
#3: Nicky Asher-Pedro
Nicky Asher-Pedro was born in Cape Town, South Africa. As a teenager she became involved in the anti-apartheid struggle and later worked in radio. She is a social worker, activist and journalist for The Big Issue magazine, a non-profit organization that empowers unemployed and marginalized adults.
Nicky Asher-Pedro (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“I think being a woman in this city, Cape Town – particularly if you’re outspoken and you say what’s on your mind – is so tough. Men find it a challenge. They don’t expect you to be ‘difficult.’ Being a woman in a man’s world can feel like the lowest depth of misery. In this world, women are told to keep the peace and not stand up for themselves. They’re told that they need a man and that they need to change to accommodate men. They’re told to love men and respect men before they love and respect themselves. And as a result, women become defined by men.”
#4: Audrey Brown
Audrey Brown was born in Kliptown, South Africa. Inspired as a child by journalists such as Maud Motanyane and Don Mattera, she later obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism, African history and politics from Rhodes University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Wales, and is now a broadcast journalist with the BBC World Service. Brown has been particularly influenced by her mother, Beatrice, a fierce Catholic divorcee; her beloved uncle, Gene; and the fact that she is the only girl in a family of five children.
Audrey Brown (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“We all want the world to be fairer, we all want to banish white-supremacist racist thinking. But that’s not just going to happen, we’re going to have to make it happen. I want human beings to be imbued with the spirit of excellence: to want to do the best that they can in any endeavour.”
#5: Collette Dinnigan
Collette Dinnigan was born in Mandini, South Africa. She studied fashion and textiles in New Zealand before moving to Australia, where she established her eponymous fashion label in 1990. In 1995, Dinnigan became the first Australian-based designer to be invited by the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode to show a ready-to-wear collection in Paris. Her many honours include Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced, a retrospective of twenty-five years of her work at the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences in Sydney, which opened in 2015 for eighteen months. Dinnigan is now focussed on interior design projects and collaborations.
Collette Dinnigan (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“Most of my life, I’ve had dreams and have followed them, so ‘yes’ means, ‘Let’s try!’ – even if you fail, you will have learned something. Whereas, if you say ‘no,’ it’s an iron doorstop – it’s not progress.”
#6: Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela
Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela was born in Welkom, South Africa. She is the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Nomzamo Nobandla Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and of King Sobhuza II of Swaziland and Mbhono Shongwe. A business developer, public speaker and self-described serial entrepreneur, she launched her luxury fashion range, Swati by Roi Kaskara, in 2017.
Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“I think my self‑expression is critical, because I know that my grandmother has fought tirelessly for women to express themselves – to be whatever they want to be and do whatever they want to do. And much like my mum and grandmother taught me, I have a responsibility to teach my daughter how she can be the best version of herself.”
#7: Joanne Fedler
Joanne Fedler was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand and at Yale University before returning to South Africa, where she lectured in law and became legal advisor at People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), a women’s rights organisation that provides both frontline and advocacy services. Fedler’s debut novel, The Dreamcloth, was nominated for South Africa’s Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2006, while Secret Mothers’ Business was on the 2008 Der Spiegel bestseller list. Now a full-time author and writing mentor, Fedler works with aspiring female authors to help them find their voices through the power of writing.
Joanne Fedler (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“When we can own our stories as storytellers rather than victims and make meaning from our experiences, we have a chance to transform. And when we can find our voices and share our stories, we light the way for other people to do the same.”
#8: Qaqamba Gubanca
Qaqamba Gubanca was born in Ngcobo, South Africa. She works as a mentor mother at the Philani Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Trust in Khayelitsha township in Cape Town, South Africa. The Philani Clinic provides holistic health and nutrition support to women and families in townships; its Mentor Mother programme has been extended to South Africa’s Eastern Cape, as well as to Swaziland and Ethiopia. Gubanca is living with HIV.
Qaqamba Gubanca (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“Today, I counsel fifty mothers on a range of issues: from the importance of antenatal screenings to childhood nutrition. As a mother, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about raising my child, but I’ve gained so much knowledge through the training I’ve received. My learning makes me feel so happy and it gives me comfort to know how best to raise my child. Education is the key, so it matters that my daughter grows up to be educated, to have a good job and a house. And it matters that she respects people.”
#9: Zelda la Grange
Zelda la Grange was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She completed a three-year executive-secretary diploma at the University of Technology, Pretoria, in 1992. In 1994, she became assistant to the private secretary of South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela; in 1997, she herself became one of the president’s private secretaries. Following President Mandela’s retirement from the presidency in 1999 until his death in 2013, la Grange served him in various capacities, including as executive personal assistant, spokesperson, aide-de-camp and manager of his private office. In 2014, she published her bestselling memoir, Good Morning, Mr Mandela.
Zelda la Grange (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“Humanity is all that matters – period. If we can acknowledge and respect each other’s humanity, we will be able to see that we have more in common than sets us apart. If we can focus on that, we can achieve anything. Everyone on earth craves respect, and it’s by respecting our enemies that we make them our friends. The biggest lesson Nelson Mandela taught me is that it’s when we are able to remove ideology from consideration that we can connect with one another.”
#10: Ronni Kahn
Ronni Kahn was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She emigrated to Israel in 1970 and then to Australia in 1988. In 1994, she founded event-planning business Ronni Kahn Event Designs. In 2004, Kahn founded the food-rescue charity OzHarvest and was instrumental in changing legislation that had prevented potential food donors from donating their excess food. In 2010, Kahn was named Australia’s Local Hero at the Australian of the Year Awards, and in 2012, she was awarded the Tribute Award for Innovation, Entrepreneurial Skill and Contribution to the Community at the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards.
Ronni Kahn (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“I am totally aware that, in what I have achieved, I’m standing on the shoulders of all those extraordinary women who fought for my right to live a full human experience. So I will stand up and fight in turn where I can. When I think of my purpose, my fight is for disadvantaged children who are going hungry, and therefore cannot fulfil their potential.”
#11: Gail Kelly
Gail Kelly was born in Pretoria, South Africa. She began her banking career in South Africa in 1980, before moving to Australia in 1997. In 2002, Kelly became the first female chief executive officer (CEO) of a top fifteen ASX-listed company – St. George Bank. In 2007, Kelly was appointed CEO of Westpac Group. Since retiring from Westpac in 2015, Kelly has been engaged in a variety of roles, including with CARE Australia, an international organisation that works to combat global poverty, with a particular focus on the empowerment of women and girls.
Gail Kelly (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“Making a difference has always been the factor that’s driven me. I was never focussed on becoming a CEO – it wasn’t in my long-term plan – but, throughout my career I’ve sought to try, in whatever role I’ve occupied, to make a difference and help others. There’s nothing that gives me more joy and satisfaction than being able to assist others in achieving their goals, and seeing them flourish and grow.”
#12: Zaziwe Manaway
Zaziwe Manaway was born in Mbabane, Swaziland. She holds a bachelor of science in psychology from Clark Atlanta University in the United States. The firstborn granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Nomzamo Nobandla Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, she is Director of the Long Walk to Freedom line of products.
Zaziwe Manaway (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“Being a Mandela – and living the legacy – matters to all of us. We would not be who we are without my grandparents’ sacrifices. My grandfather always said that what he did, he did for us – his family. Our grandmother always says that when she was in jail, she was thinking about us. I hold what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved so dear to my heart; I don’t know if I could have done it myself. It takes an extraordinary person to endure what they have endured and change the world as they have. The legacy is very important to me. It’s up to all of us – especially the family – to continue it.”
#13: Zoleka Mandela
Zoleka Mandela was born in Soweto, South Africa. She is the founder of the Zoleka Mandela Foundation and of the Zenani Mandela Campaign for road-safety awareness. Mandela is also an ambassador for the global SaveKidsLives road-safety organisation, and the author of the autobiographical “When Hope Whispers”. She is the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Nomzamo Nobandla Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Zoleka Mandela (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“I always say, ‘As much as we’re different people, all our struggles are the same.’ Some are shocked at my struggles because of the family I come from. But I think it’s important that people know that it doesn’t matter who you are in life or where you are in terms of your status – we all have real-life issues and things that we’re struggling with. It’s great if people are able to relate to my story and journey, and see that you can turn things around. It’s just a matter of making the right choices for yourself – but you have to change in order for things to change.”
#14: Nokwanele Mbewu
Nokwanele Mbewu was born in Cala, South Africa. She manages the Mentor Mother Programme at the Philani Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Trust in Khayelitsha township in Cape Town, South Africa. The Philani Clinic provides holistic health and nutrition support to women and families in townships; its Mentor Mother Programme has been extended to South Africa’s Eastern Cape, as well as to Swaziland and Ethiopia.
Nokwanele Mbewu (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“When I go on home visits, I always look into the eyes of each child I visit. In those eyes something is written: it says, ‘I have potential.’ That potential needs to be fostered. So, fostering children’s potential if and where I can matters to me.”
#15: Hlubi Mboya Arnold
Hlubi Mboya Arnold was born in Alice in Eastern Cape, South Africa. She is best known for her role in the South African Broadcasting Corporation drama Isidingo, in which she portrayed the long-running show’s first HIV-positive character. Mboya Arnold is a social-justice activist, a social-entrepreneurship advocate, a sportswoman, an educator and a scholar, and is an executive director of two not-for-profit organisations: Future CEOs, which supports South Africans whose socioeconomic circumstances exclude them from accessing top business education and professional development opportunities; and Sunshine Cinema, a solar-powered mobile cinema that converts solar energy into social impact.
Hlubi Mboya Arnold (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“My world is my country, so I want all my people to be educated; I want them to thrive as equals and be empowered to become their own ambassadors for change.”
#16: Shanthie Naidoo
Shanthie Naidoo was born in Pretoria, South Africa. She played an important role in the struggle against apartheid, being active in the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress and later the Federation of South African Women and the African National Congress (ANC). In 1969 she was arrested along with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and other ANC members; she was interrogated and tortured for information on ANC activity and detained for 371 days. Naidoo spent 19 years in exile.
Shanthie Naidoo (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“What matters is that I no longer have to look over my shoulder – that I’m not being watched wherever I go. I value that freedom. Living up to my mother’s principles and what she fought for also matters to me. My mother was imprisoned in 1952 during the Defiance Campaign, and our house was always a political home. When friends came to play at our house, we played ‘meetings.’ My little brother used to stand on a bench and say, ‘The white people brought us to this country to work in the sugar plantation, now they won’t let us taste it.’ My parents were so proud; whenever somebody came, they would plant my brother on the table to give his little speech.”
#17: Masako Osada
Masako Osada was born in Shimonoseki, Japan. She holds a PhD in international relations from the University of the Witwatersrand and was founding programme director of the Centre for Japanese Studies, University of Pretoria. A writer, translator and visual and martial artist, her first book, Sanctions and Honorary Whites – an analysis of diplomatic ties between Japan and apartheid South Africa – was published in 2002. Osada has hosted eight solo exhibitions of her visual art, and teaches tai chi and Ryukyu kobujutsu. A committed environmentalist, Osada is an adviser to the not-for-profit, Tears of the African Elephant.
Masako Osada (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“One of the lessons about democracy that has lingered is that freedom and responsibility go together. Freedom means the ability to pursue your calling. I don’t have a nine-to-five job with a set salary and a pension plan – I don’t have financial security, but I’m not a cog in the machine of a large organisation. I choose freedom over security every time.”
#18: Ingrid le Roux
Ingrid le Roux was born in a small town north of Stockholm, Sweden. A medical doctor, she moved to South Africa with her husband in 1972. Le Roux is the founder and medical director of the Philani Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Trust in Khayelitsha township in Cape Town, South Africa. Philani provides holistic health and nutrition support to women and families in townships; its Mentor Mother programme has been extended to South Africa’s Eastern Cape, as well as to Swaziland and Ethiopia.
Ingrid la Roux (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“The work that I’ve done – and continue to do – here in South Africa matters to me. I am energised by it every day of my life . . . To be a health worker is hard, and training is vital. This matters to me: to make sure the children in this country can grow up well nourished, and to create a mechanism by which we can achieve that.”
#19: Caster Semenya
Caster Semenya OIB was born in Ga-Masehlong, South Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sports science from the University of Pretoria. A professional middle-distance runner, she is an 800-metre-event world champion and a two-time Olympic gold medallist. Through the Caster Semenya Foundation, Semenya trains and assists young athletes, and supports campaigns to distribute menstrual cups to disadvantaged South African girls, supporting them to remain in school during their menstrual cycles. In 2014, Semenya was granted the bronze Order of Ikhamanga by the South African government for her achievements in sports.
Caster Semenya (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“What matters to me is doing what I can to change the lives of others, especially the lives of people living in rural areas who have very limited access to resources. I set up my foundation because I believe in the potential of sport to develop young kids, to teach them discipline and to produce future leaders. I feel I can contribute to ensuring that kids become better human beings.”
#20: Nomvula Sikhakhane
Nomvula Sikhakhane was born in Katlehong, South Africa. From the age of six, Sikhakhane was abused by her stepfather. Later, while living with her grandmother, Sikhakhane met Sahm Venter and Claude Colart, who became her unofficial guardians. A graduate of the HTA School of Culinary Art, Sikhakhane now works as a chef.
Nomvula Sikhakhane (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“Eventually I said, ‘I have to be strong and I have to keep going – I’m not going to be a victim of what happened to me. I’d rather have a bright future and be something big.’ Even though what happened is not something that I can erase, I can change the way it makes me feel and be a happy person. Because there’s nothing that beats happiness. There’s no point in staying mad and questioning something you cannot change. But you can turn the negative into a positive. And, so far, I think I’ve done that; I’ve accepted what I can’t change and made something positive out of it. I’ve learned to be a happy person and to let go.”
#21: Gillian Slovo
Gillian Slovo was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and now lives in London. She is a novelist and playwright, and her verbatim plays include the 2017 drama Another World – a look at why Western youth would join Islamic State. Her fourteen published books include Ice Road, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction; Red Dust, which is set around a hearing of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was made into a film starring Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor; and her family memoir, Every Secret Thing, which tells the story of life with her parents, South African activists Joe Slovo and Ruth First.
Gillian Slovo (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“I would like people to understand that just because you’re not born in the same street, in the same city, and don’t have the same colour of skin, does not make you any less human.”
#22: June Steenkamp
June Steenkamp was born in Blackburn, England, and moved to South Africa in 1965. In 2013, Steenkamp’s daughter, Reeva Steenkamp, was shot and killed by Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who had been dating Reeva for several months. Pistorius was later convicted of Reeva’s murder. In 2015, Steenkamp established the Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation to educate and empower women and children against violence and abuse.
June Steenkamp (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“Somehow, I came to the realisation that, instead of sitting at home crying and crying, I needed to get myself together and try to help other women affected by violence. That’s how the foundation was born; it’s named after Reeva, in her memory, to continue her legacy and the work she started. We are focussed on education; we speak to girls so that they are equipped with the tools they need to develop an intolerance towards men treating them in certain ways . . . We also want to educate men – while they are still boys – to respect the women in their lives . . . Men must be taught to respect their mothers, their sisters, their girlfriends and their wives.”
#23: Mpho Tutu van Furth
Mpho Tutu van Furth was born in London, England. She is a preacher, teacher, writer and retreat facilitator, and is an Episcopal priest. Shortly after her marriage to Marceline van Furth in 2016, she handed in her licence to officiate in the South African Anglican church, as it does not permit its priests to marry same-sex partners. Tutu van Furth is canonically resident in the USA. She is the daughter of anti-apartheid activists Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Leah Tutu. Tutu van Furth was the founding director of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting projects and initiatives that promote peace and reconciliation for the flourishing of people and the planet.
Mpho Tutu van Furth (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“What’s really important is that all of us – people and planet – ought to be able to flourish. Nobody can flourish in circumstances of abject poverty. Nobody can flourish in circumstances of sickness and want, or in places of war. No one can flourish when they’re stigmatised, or when they’re set aside. No one can flourish when they are treated as if they don’t matter. We need to create a world in which all of us can flourish.”
#24: Sahm Venter
Sahm Venter was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. As a journalist for more than twenty years, her career focussed on covering the anti-apartheid struggle and South Africa’s transition to democracy. Venter worked as the senior researcher at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and she was a member of the editorial team for Nelson Mandela’s bestselling Conversations With Myself. She co-edited 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69 by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and co-authored Conversations With a Gentle Soul with the late Ahmed Kathrada. Venter and her partner, Claude Colart, are unofficial guardians of Nomvula Sikhakhane.
Sahm Venter (2017) by Blackwell & RuthOriginal Source: 200 Women
“All these years later, it’s really important that we stay true, as a country and as a world, to the values that we held high at our best moments: democracy, freedom, integrity, humanity, sincerity. These values are all underpinned by humanity. You cannot have a system like apartheid if you have humanity, because apartheid was the absence of humanity, in its crudest form. And human beings kept that system alive – it wasn’t a machine, it was people. We have to always be very true to our values and hold on to the good people in the world. We have to nurture them. And we must make sure that we don’t ever let that spirit die.”
From 200 Women: who will change the way you see the world by Geoff Blackwell & Ruth Hobday, copyright © 2017 Blackwell and Ruth Limited. Images copyright © Kieran E. Scott except image of Caster Semenya copyright © Geoff Blackwell. Video footage copyright © Kieran E. Scott. Find out more about the 200 Women project at www.twohundredwomen.com.