South Africa: Lillian Diedericks – Another symbol of South Africa’s forgotten activists

It is disturbing that after 1968 most sources are ambivalent about Lillian Diedericks. It is appalling that most do not question the downplaying of her prominent role as a liberation activist.

“Tshepo’s mum, Lillian Diedericks, passed away this morning.” This is the text message sent to me on Tuesday, December 21 at 6:44 p.m. by Mama Pinky Sithole, a longtime member of the ANC. I met Mum Sithole as part of my field research regarding “Naledi Township Darkness over the 1976 Uprisings”, Soweto. Mama Sithole and her young friend, Fundi Skweyiya, are recognized as my main interlocutors concerning Lillian Lily Diedericks (1925-2021).

Much of our dialogue consisted of lamenting the marginal reminiscence of Diedericks. This concern extended to other women activists, in the long run of the South African body politic, as contributors to the local liberation struggle. A highlight of these dialogues was a reference to the 70th anniversary issue of DRUM magazine, which featured an interview with Diedericks (pages 50-51) conducted by Nosipiwo Manona.

Any doubt I may have had of Mama Sithole’s text message was shattered on Wednesday morning, December 22. Diedericks’ death was trending in various media, such as SABC News, eNCA…