Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: Medical doctor, Politician and Activist

she was featured as one of the BBC's 100 Women


Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is a South African medical doctor and former anti-apartheid activist. She serves as a Minister in the Presidency office and holding the position of Chancellor at the University of Limpopo. She is an influential member of the African National Congress (ANC). Dlamini-Zuma co-founded the Health Refugee Trust (HEART) and played pivotal roles within the ANC Health Department. In 2012, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma became the first female chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Background and Early Life

Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma was Born on January 27, 1949, in Natal, South Africa. Daughter to a Zulu family deeply committed to the anti-apartheid struggle. Her parents are father  Willibrod Gweva, and mother, Rose. Dlamini-Zuma completed her high school education at Adams College in Amanzimtoti, a mission school renowned for educating ANC stalwarts.
In 1971, she earned a BSc degree in zoology and botany from the University of Zululand. Subsequently, she pursued a medical degree at the University of Natal. During her time there, she joined the South African Students’ Organization and secured the position of deputy president in 1976.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s involvement in student politics during her medical studies in South Africa caught the attention of the police. This forced her  to seek exile in 1976 in UK where She successfully completed her medical studies. She graduated with an MBChB from the University of Bristol in 1978. Additionally, she served as the chairperson of the ANC Youth Section in Britain from 1977 to 1978. Her dedication to education and activism underscored her unique ability to combine intellectual rigor with an impassioned commitment to effecting change.

From Activism to Public Service

As apartheid began to crumble, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma transitioned from activism to public service. Her unwavering commitment to justice and equality led her to join the African National Congress (ANC). While a member, she continued her fight against apartheid and contributed to the organization’s mission.
In 1994, following the end of apartheid, Dlamini-Zuma assumed the role of South Africa’s Minister of Health. This marked a significant shift in her career as she moved from activism to a position of governmental authority. In this capacity, she advocated for policies aimed at enhancing healthcare access, particularly for underserved communities.

Achievements and Recognition

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s remarkable journey led her to serve as South Africa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, where she played a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s foreign policy. Her diplomatic prowess and unwavering commitment to South Africa’s global interests earned her immense respect and recognition.
Dr. Dlamini-Zuma’s contributions extended beyond South Africa. She served as a Research Technician at the University of Natal, held various medical positions in England, and actively participated in ANC organizations abroad.

Fitting End

Throughout her illustrious career, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma received numerous awards and honorary degrees, a testament to her dedication to various fields and her impact on global health and politics. Her accolades include the Stateswomen of the Year Award from BBQ in 2004, the Order of Luthuli in gold in 2013, and recognition from international organizations for her contributions to healthcare and diplomacy. In 2015, she was featured as one of the BBC’s 100 Women. In 2019, she assumed the role of Chancellor at the University of Limpopo.

Her upbringing in a politically charged environment, her relentless pursuit of educational excellence, her transition from activism to public service, and her historic leadership role at the African Union Commission all serve as a wellspring of inspiration for a brighter future in African politics. Dr. Dlamini-Zuma continues to inspire future generations of leaders, not only in Africa but across the globe.

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