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Dorothy Nomzansi Nyembe (December 31, 1931 – December 17, 1998) was a South African activist and politician.


Born near Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal, Nyembe was the daughter of Leeya Basolise Nyembe, whose father was Chief Ngedee Shezi.[1] She attended mission schools until Standard 9. She had her only child when she was fifteen.[1] A hawker by trade, she joined the African National Congress in 1952 and soon became an active member.[1] She led women from Natal in the Defiance Campaign of 1956.[1] She was also active in the movement to boycott beer halls.[2] In 1959 she was elected president of the Natal division of the African National Congress Women's League. When the ANC was banned in 1960, she joined Spear of the Nation.[3] In 1963 she led women during the Natal Women's Revolt.[4]

Nyembe spent much of her life under apartheid either under banning orders or in prison,[3] serving terms from 1963 to 1966 and again from 1968 until 1983.[1] Nyembe joined the Natal Organisation of Women (NOW) after her 1984 release.[1] She was again released from detention in 1987.[5] She was elected to the National Assembly in 1994.[4]

During her career she received the Order of Friendship of Peoples, from the Soviet Union, and the Chief Albert Luthuli prize, the latter in 1992.[1]


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