Lindy (Lindelwa) Guma was born in a small town in South Africa. Today she lives in Winnipeg. As a Black child growing up she played with White, Coloured, East Indian children. But when school started, she was forced to go to an all Black school. Growing up under Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, often called the architect of apartheid, Lindy shares her story of becoming aware that apartheid was keeping the Black community as the bottom of society behind the Whites, Coloured, and East Indian communities. She talks about how she met husband, Eric Mduduzi Guma, and how he became active in the ANC, fought against aparthied and was ultimately fatally shot as one of the well known Mstola 11. Fleeing to Canada, with her two children as refugees, Lindy shared how through her deceased patriotic husband Eric, she danced in the streets when Nelson Mandela was ultimately freed from prison after 27 years.
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This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One territory, the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Cree, Oji Cree, Dakota, and the Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation.
This is Humans, On Rights. A podcast advocating for the education of human rights.
Here's your host Stuart Murray.
My guest today lives in Winnipeg, but grew up during apartheid in South Africa.
Lindy Guma is going to share her Storey and some of the tragedy that her family personally have gone through with living in South Africa apartheid finding a way out as a refugee to Calgary and eventually Winnipeg.
Lindy Guma, Welcome to humans on rights.
Thank you, Stuart.
I'm pleased to be here and I appreciate that you have asked me to share with you.
So, Lindy, let's go back to you as a young person.
You're born in South Africa.
Where exactly were you born?
In South Africa.
I was born in a town called Queenstown and at the time it was in the Cape Province.
But with the new South Africa, it is now in the Eastern Cape.
And it was a small town where my father was a high school principal.
And, uh, that's the town that I was born in.
And I lived there until the age of about 10.
And did you have brothers and sisters at that time?
Yes, I am one of six Children.
There were four older ones and then I had a younger brother Tell me at that time I mean, as all young Children around the world, they grow up, they play games, they do different things.
What sort of activities would have And you when you think back on your time for those 1st 10 years, what sort of activities stood out to you and made an impression on you as a young girl growing up in that area, we lived in an area that it was a street that had mixed race people.
So there were people of European origin, and then there were people of East Indian origin.
And then there was in South Africa.
They were classified as coloured, so it was a mix of European and the black.
And so that's the area that I grew up in.
And those are the kids that we used to play with.
We didn't all go to the same school because the schools were segregated.
You could only go to the school of your racial background, and we had informal gatherings with these kids on the street because we were all close to the same age.
The one thing I remember is that my mother always took me to girl guides, but we didn't have any formal spot, but we did play.
We watched, you know, older people playing things like cricket and soccer and rugby.
And so those are the things that we played, but we didn't have they sophisticated things to use or a field to use.
So Lindi, let's just put it into perspective for a second around.
What year are we talking about now?
I was born in 1949 so I went to school, I guess around 1955 56.
I think so in the mid fifties, too, just about the end of the fifties, right?
If my research is accurate at that time, I think Hendrick Verwoerd was the president and has been kind of known to be the architect of apartheid.
You might not have seen any or being aware of any of that as a young person.
No, I didn't.
I was not aware of what was going on.
You know, I I said at the beginning that we had mixed race, you know, people living together on that street.
And it was before the Group Areas Act in the Group Areas Act was introduced by HF pervert.
And that's who was the I'm not sure it was the prime minister or president, but he was the leader of the Nationalist Party.
And so after he took office, he designed an education for the different racial groups.
As you would probably know, in South Africa we had four different racial groups, and the hierarchy was The European descendants were at the top, followed by the coloured people and then the people of East Indian origin.
And then the blacks were right at the bottom.
And so even though we played with these kids, but they always would on occasion make us aware that we were inferior to them.
So you didn't.
You obviously went as you said to separate schools but you because you all occupied the same neighbourhood after school and maybe on weekends you had a chance to play together and interact But you still at that time felt that you were treated as a second class citizen.
Well, I mean, at the time, I wasn't really aware because my parents or my older siblings never talked about it, or if they did, they would not say it to us.
We were made to be aware that we were different, and we sort of accepted it as normal because nobody was saying anything about it at the time.
And probably it was also my understanding.
That's just the way things were for sure.
And you never felt at that point again.
You know, this is really going back into the memory bank, Lindy.
But you never felt any tension.
I mean, usually as young kids, you know, you're more interested in.
I mean, so many other things.
I don't want to speculate, but I mean, you're not really aware of some of the worldly or even local tensions when you're younger.
You I'm not saying you're naive to it, but there's so many other things as you're growing up, your eyes are starting to become wider and wider, open as you learn.
But did you get any sense at all?
that there might be any tension in the neighbourhood at all?
No, not at all.
It was not a big neighbourhood.
There were probably about 10 houses.
But there were certain houses.
Whereas black kids, we couldn't go because the parents are not accepting.
And if they did allow us, we would always go through the back door, you know, So you couldn't go and knock on the front door, even though that was happening that way As a child, you think?
Oh, well, that's just how it is.
So, Lindy, let me ask you this question.
If somebody came to visit your parents or came to your house and they were either, you know, white or coloured, as you say, would they be allowed in the front door?
They would be allowed.
But then again, I must clarify that with the people who live on our street.
And we still interacted they, you know, like the discussions were over the fence type of thing.
It was people were not actually coming into the house.
However, my father was a teacher, so he was respected, you know, because the high school he was in was the only high school and therefore he commanded respect so he would be invited into the homes.
But us as Children, we could only go through the back door if we did.
Okay, So, Lindi, let's move past that you're now.
For 10 years you have lived in this small community.
What's next in terms of where you move and what's happening to your and your personal journey?
My family or my dad's family is originally from the It was called a bantustan, or homeland called the Trans Sky, but it is now part of the Eastern Cape.
So that's where our, you know, ancestral home is.
So my dad had property there and because he retired from his job, then we moved back to to to, you know, it's a town called you to.
And what were you doing at that time?
I mean, were you you were going to school?
It was at a different kind of environment where the neighbourhood was there Anything different than what you've experienced in the 1st 10 years of your life.
The majority of people in the Transkei I where the cause of people you know, So those are you know if I open African background.
So our neighbours, they all look like us.
And so the school I went to our sent to a boarding school and it was just, you know, just for black black students only, even though the teachers in the principle were of a different colour.
So it was that again, sort of a tradition Lindi in that area so that if you were, say, white, did you go to a separate school?
It was their segregation on all levels at that level for education.
But not only for education, but any amenity that you can think of.
Like the hospitals, they were segregated swimming pools, restaurants, you know, anything that you can think of.
You know, they would even be signs saying for whites only there were buses, you know, in transportation, it was the same thing.
Everything was segregated.
And I think the name apartheid, which means separate.
It's originally a Dutch word.
It means separate.
So that's what Doctor Hendrik, their boot.
The you know, the prime minister at the time had designed.
So tell me a little bit about that experience.
Lindi from through your eyes.
If you wanted to go swimming if there was a public swimming pool is where there are times that you could go to swim in there or were you not allowed to swim in there?
What was that experience like?
What was happening was there was a swimming pool for white people, for colours for Indians, and they were all separate.
So there was a swimming pool.
But for blacks.
But as you can imagine, since we were regarded as the fourth class citizens, it was not as posh or as as having all the stuff that you want to see in a swimming pool.
And again, it just was absolutely not allowed to interchange in terms of attending or going to another swimming pool from another from another colour of skin.
Oh, not at all.
They were all separate, just like the schools, just like the hospital and Lindy again.
At some point, as you start to become from, you know, a child to a very young woman.
Did you start to realise that because you see all these differences in these four classes of people, as you mentioned, did it ever start to occur to you that something was not right or something wasn't fair about that kind of a situation.
Because when I was in high school my last two years of high school, we we're not provided with the best education.
The most emphasis was on studying religion and the rest of the subject, which of course, are designed differently than what you see in Canada.
They were just enough to allow us to read and write, so to speak.
And so then I started saying something to my parents about it, but they were off the impression that I was not pulling my weight in studying, so they were not quite supportive.
In that sense, what might you have said?
Recall what you might have said to your parents that they felt that you that you wanted to bring up and their response was that you're not pulling your weight.
What did you share with them, or what were your observations?
I remember just talking to my mother, you know, because she was the one person.
My father was very quiet, you know, very smart man, but at the same time, very quiet.
So I always felt more comfortable talking to my mom, who was also a teacher, but she was not teaching outside the home.
So I said, You know, at school we are not really taught some some periods.
You know, during the day we would sit just by ourselves because the teachers were praying somewhere because it was around the time communism was erupting and also in South Africa.
I think there were some rumbles because the A n.
Was formed and many other education many other organisations that were speaking against the system.
So there would be times when you literally would be sitting in your classroom without any teacher because they were off.
As far as you can tell praying or doing something other than teaching you.
Yes, because I went to you know, the boarding school was a church run boarding school by the Dutch Reformed Church.
And that was I'm not quite sure way to originate it, but it's related to the Afrikaners who now live in South Africa.
So you boarded there.
But did you get a chance to go and visit your parents?
Yes, Absolutely Sorry I cut you off them.
Yes, I I did.
We had, uh, four quarters, you know, in the year.
So our school year starts in January, and then in March we would get a 10 day break, you know, because it's usually around Easter time, and then there'll be another quarter, which ended in June, and then we would go back to school at the end of July.
So I think it was about four weeks and then again in September and then at the end of the year, which is December, then we would have a longer holiday, which was six weeks then.
At that point, then we were, you know, we took transportation to go back to our homes.
Okay, so So Linda, you mentioned roughly somewhere between 4 to 6 weeks of holiday is the term you used.
What would you do during those 4 to 6 weeks?
As as a young adult, as a young adult, I would either help my mother in her garden because she loved gardening.
Or sometimes we would visit relatives.
And would that mean would you be travelling to do that?
Or would they be fairly close by?
Sometimes they would be close by, you know, and the furthest was probably an hour or two away.
So it was not a long distance.
And would you Would you take a car to go and visit them?
Yeah, at the time, my father Or if he didn't have a car.
At the time, one of my brothers was already working, and so they were able to, you know, to take us to where we needed to go.
Especially my mom's home, which is in part, right?
So, Lindy, you're now at this point, you're you're starting to get towards graduating from all call at high school.
Is that what you Is that what you refer to as high school?
So you're you're getting ready to graduate.
What's on your mind?
What do you What do you want to do?
What do you think is the next steps ahead?
I mean, both academically and for you personally.
What do you see for your life as you get ready to graduate?
Well, my dream was to be able to go to university, you know, and I wanted to take education.
That was my dream.
But I think I was watching my parents, you know, as they probably influenced me.
And I think the other factor was that We were not being taught properly in school, and I thought I could be the change if I became a teacher.
But unfortunately, that was quashed by my mother.
And she said, No, you cannot go to teaching.
Go do something else.
The old supportive mother.
Yes, And so I ended up, you know, starting to go into nursing.
And now let's just continue that conversation for a second.
You're going into nursing, are you?
Are you able to be at a mixed?
I don't know if it's a university that they taught nursing, but at that school, as you were taking nursing, were those mixed classes.
In a way, they were, you know, for East Indian or coloured.
But there were no white students, and it was a nursing college.
So I had to go to another city, even though there was a school of nursing in Umtata in the town that we live.
But I think my brother preferred, you know, all the decisions were made for me.
Preferred that I go to a train at a hospital called my Cords Hospital in Durban, because that's where he had worked himself.
Okay, And when you say, just to touch on for a quick second.
You say that all your decisions were made for you.
Was that your mother and your father doing that?
By this time?
I should have mentioned that my my father passed away suddenly in 1968.
So this is just shortly after I graduated from high school.
So your mother is the one that is really giving you parental advice exactly as well as my brother.
Because then once my father passed away, my oldest brother became like, you know, the guardian.
That's just the, you know, the African culture.
The male always has to be, You know, the one who makes the decision.
And so let me just put this in perspective real quick.
So you're your father passes away.
You have your brother, your older brother.
Just give us a sense of what your family was.
What was the makeup of your family?
How many brothers and sisters and where did you fit in the kind of the pecking order?
If I could use that term with with your siblings I had three older brothers.
The one who was the decision maker was the oldest and then followed by a sister and then another brother, and then another one and then myself.
And then I had a younger brother.
Unfortunately, all the boys are gone, and it's just me and my sister.
And she's 11 years older than me.
Now when you say they are all gone, Are you saying that as we're recording this today, that they are no longer alive?
And so did a lot of them pass away in South Africa?
Or did some of them were going to get to your storey about how you became a refugee and came to Canada?
But as we're still talking, were in South Africa, Did your family members pass in South Africa?
Yes, they all remained in South Africa, and so they all died there.
That's pretty tragic.
I mean, that's a good sized family to have that many people.
As you and I are having a conversation today, knowing that those siblings are no longer with you.
Uh, that's correct.
Sorry about that, Lindi Lindi.
You now become a nurse.
You graduate and you become a nurse.
Is as you are ready to graduate.
Is it very clear to you that you will be working in a specific hospital that is racially based.
Indeed, the hospital I trained in and it's a hospital where people had to pay privately.
And so most people who could afford to get to that hospital where the East Indian people or coloured people and then most blacks or Africans who went to that hospital is because they were workers in an industry and they were injured at work, and therefore the company was paying for their expenses.
And how long did you did you practise your profession?
As a nurse in South Africa?
It was about five or six years.
And during that five or six years, I think you met somebody.
You met your husband?
I met my husband, Eric, to do the Zuma.
And he was a law student at the University of KwaZulu Natal.
So it was not in Durban, but outside of Durban.
And we fell in love, got married and had two lovely Children.
Where were you living at at this time, Lindy, With your family?
We were living in a township called Mama.
So a township where the areas where the black people live, it was just designed for that.
And then your husband, Eric, was he studying law?
And so one of the things that that he used, I believe his well, it wasn't necessarily his study of law.
I think he just again looked at what was happening in South Africa with apartheid and the unfairness of it.
Tell us a bit about how he started to get more active politically.
Okay, So when he was at the university, there was a student body which was conscious of what was happening in South Africa.
That often happens when people go to university, right?
And so he would talk about how the system was unfair to black people and others as well, but mostly the black people, because we were in the majority and we were affected the most by the apartheid system.
And so he did join an organisation called the Black Consciousness Movement.
And then the ball started rolling because then there were a lot of arrests because people were protesting, you know, one way or the other.
And they were always trying to find a way to change things in South Africa.
So let's talk a little bit about you know again.
Nelson Mandela is iconic, and I mentioned I think, at the top of this show that July 18th is is Nelson Mandela International Day and as it should be, I mean, he was an amazing, amazing human being.
There were lots of people, and I think Nelson Mandela would be the first person to say it wasn't just him.
There were many, many, many others who were opposed to apartheid, and we're working against it.
One of those people that I believe your husband got to know that Eric got to know was Steve Biko.
Tell me about Steve Biko.
Steve Biko was one of the founders of the Black Consciousness Movement, and I think he was influenced probably in a way by the Black Panther, where he had to sort of educators to understand that the colour of our skin has nothing to do with who we are.
You know, we are just as good as anyone else.
And before his time, we were trying so much to fit into the bigger mould and, you know, straightening our hair, bleaching our skin, you know, and just trying to change who we were because we thought that we would be accepted.
But the black consciousness.
I think that's what Steve was all about.
That you are good the way you are.
You've been created that way and that you should understand.
And so did your husband.
Your husband, Eric.
Did he know Steve?
He had met Steve because Steve was at the University of Natal, which was the medical school for the black students.
And at the same time, he was organising university students and other people and also the grassroots movement to make them aware.
So he was creating that movement.
And so they had met at some point.
Personally, I never met him, but I knew about him, right?
And he tragically, was he being Steve Biko was tragically assassinated at the age of 30.
I think there was a roadblock.
I mean, there was a lot happening in South Africa at the time because, you know, the the black consciousness people were travelling from place to place, having conferences, and then the police or the security police would have road blocks.
And they found Steve with someone else travelling, and he was arrested.
And in Port Elizabeth he was taken to a prison in Port Elizabeth.
And then, I think 48 hours later, I'm not quite sure.
He was found in a prison in Pretoria, and that's many, many miles away, I venture to say, about 900 kilometres away, and he had been bludgeoned and he had passed away.
So your husband, Eric, obviously, is very active in the black consciousness movement.
What impact does this have on your husband?
Or it affected him and his friends profoundly.
They took up the We say you pick up the spear or take off from where Steve had left, and they were determined that they were going to carry on the work that he had started and tell me a bit about what your husband, Eric, he had to at some point leave South Africa.
That's correct, because in the process, after Steve Biko died, he decided to formally join the African National Congress, and that was the organisation that Nelson Mandela had started.
Well, he hadn't studied it, but he was part of that organisation.
So because of that, then the authorities found out, because the African National Congress was illegal in South Africa.
If you were a member.
You were either arrested or you had to flee the country.
So a lot of people were escaping the country.
And also I would like to mention that with regards to Steve Biko because of the way he was organising, he was going to the high school students.
So I don't know if you've heard of the Soweto uprisings or the Soweto.
Yes, the Soweto uprisings in 1976 I'm aware, but please tell us about them, please.
So we talked a little bit about the disparity in education.
So our education was called the Bantu education Bantu meaning people.
But they were referring to the black people.
So if you saw any sign where Sesno Bantu is allowed, it was referring to us black people.
And so for route, Mr Farouk, he designed the Bantu education.
It was an inferior kind of education for black people, you know?
And as I said, you know, we were just taught to be able to just read and write to get orders from somebody, but not to go into any higher education.
And so they also introduced the Africans language.
So at home, we spoke our native language, which is closer for me.
And then we were also learning English.
But on top of that, they had introduced the Afrikaans language and of course, because the architects of apartheid where the Afrikaners then we said Afrikaans is an oppressor language and we did not want to learn that I was forced to learn it in high school.
But of course the uprisings came after I had already that high school.
So the students in Soweto organised and said, Down with the oppressors language down with the Bantu education.
And so that's when how the uprising started.
And of course, we know that some of the students were killed and some disappeared, and then some had to leave the country because the security police were after them.
And what just again the impact that that had on you and on your husband Eric?
Well, it did have an impact indirectly, even though we were out of school.
But the architects of apartheid, we're strengthening the, you know, the reins on us.
So there were more laws put into place and there were some security acts that were introduced, you know, so that you could be detained for for so many days without even seeing a lawyer without any trial.
And so we were getting disillusioned, wondering if they would ever be any change.
And so decisions had to be made whether you stay in that system and fight or you try something else.
What did Eric do?
I don't think he wanted to live, but because after he had completed his, you know, law degree.
Then he started working for a company that was defending political prisoners.
So he got quite involved in that, you know, And he was able to get some of them released as well from prison because there was no trial.
They were just sitting there in gaol.
So I think the security people, they didn't like what he was doing.
And so he got arrested once, and at the time I was in the hospital after I've been in a car accident.
And he didn't show up one evening when he used to come and visit me on a regular basis.
And then my sister in law told me that he'd been arrested, but he managed to I would say, wiggle out of that, you know, because they let him go.
And then about a month later, they were looking for him again.
And then at that point, he knew that if they took him again, then he would either be in prison or and I mean, the chances being killed were very high because a lot of prisoners were dying in prison for they would say, Oh, he fell in the shower and hit his head, you know, type of thing.
Did he leave South Africa?
He had to flee South Africa in 1978 and he went to Swaziland.
Okay, so to Swaziland and and then you that, you know, your husband is in Swaziland.
You and your two Children are still in South Africa.
How did you manage that relationship will be able to visit him, Or how did that how did that work out?
It was very difficult because at the time, we didn't have cell phones to start with.
And then Secondly, it's not all the homes that had telephones, so there was no way of him calling me.
But there would always be a career, you know, because I also needed financial support.
So somebody you know would talk by our house and give me some information about him and he got to be quite active.
Obviously, at this point, I mean, even probably more so than when he was in South Africa.
Because the A N.
Was very active in the countries that were surrounding South Africa.
There were some operations that were being done.
So Lindy, you're a mother.
You're a nurse.
Uh, and you have two Children and your husband is a known activist working for the A N.
Did you ever feel pressure that you were being watched or that they were trying to make your life difficult knowing who your husband was?
Oh, yes, absolutely.
You know, after he had escaped, somebody came to the door.
And now you know, you have to remember, in South Africa there are security issues.
So we had a high fence around our home, but they managed to cut the fence and get inside.
And then there were knocks on the windows on the doors.
And at the time, my one of my older brothers had come to live with me just for safety.
And so they wanted to know where he was.
And then a few weeks following that, they came the security police came to pick me up to take me to their centre where I was interrogated, I was threatened.
And I I mean, I fell apart crying.
What was the next thing that took place in terms of your life with Eric?
So a year later, I was able to visit through some assistance from some friends because I didn't even have a passport.
We didn't have passports because we were not able to travel anywhere.
But he was an ambassador for the Trans Sky.
And so he made arrangements for me to get a passport in order to travel.
But this passport, you know, it only allowed you to go to the to the bordering countries.
You know, I couldn't come to Canada with a passport, a passport like that.
So I was able to get to Swaziland, and then we met.
And then we discussed, you know, our future.
And then the decision was to bring the kids along and myself because I was finding it very difficult to be, you know, without him in South Africa.
And so did you make the decision to move to Swaziland to be with Eric?
Yes, I did and I left South Africa.
January 7th, 1980.
It's a date that I can never forget, I suspect, not Lindi and your two Children at that time.
How old would they be?
They were five and seven.
And so now you're here in Swaziland.
Are you able to get work as a nurse?
Eventually I did.
Yes, I was able to work.
I worked at a hospital at one of the hospitals in a town called Manzini and tell me a bit about what next happens to your husband Eric.
So we got to Swaziland in 1980 then he was doing his work and I was also doing mine.
The kids are going to school.
And then one week end, there was a conference with the people of the A N C, which was held in most zombie.
So he left on a Saturday night and told me that they would be back on a Thursday.
So they were at the conference and Thursday never showed up.
And then I waited on Friday wondering what was happening.
And then on Saturday morning, I was told that they had been well, somebody said, You know, I guess they wanted to put it mildly to me.
There had been an accident in my dollar.
And my dollar is a suburb in Maputo.
You know, Maputo is the capital, you know, City of Mozambique.
And so I was hoping for the best.
So I crossed my fingers still hoping that he was going to come through the door.
But instead, some a N C officials came to let me know that he was one of the fallen people in Nella Tech.
That night there had been an attack in Matola, the community of the town of Mottola.
There had been an attack.
And I think there were a number of fatalities, some number of people killed.
And one of them was your husband.
And is that there is a memorial there to dedicate that or tell us a little bit about that.
So this happened in 1981 and it took many years for the A N.
You know, to collaborate with the Mozambique in government, you know, to build this memorial, and only because the neighbouring countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia and in many other countries and including Mozambique, of course, there have been so supportive to the organisations that were fighting apartheid.
So they felt that with all that had happened the medulla 11, they were not the only people that had been killed.
There were some people who had been killed in the Sotho and other countries.
But then the more the Mozambican government decided that they had to honour all these people.
But the Mottola 11 of January 1981.
I don't know if it was more extending.
I don't know what they based their decision on, but they decided that there would be a museum as well as this monument.
So take us back to that that night, Lindy, you know, you know that Eric is very active, you know, he's had to flee South Africa to get to Swaziland.
You've joined him.
You yourself have been harassed by the authorities.
How do you come to terms?
And maybe even today?
But how do you come to terms with the fact that your husband was so passionate about doing what was right and fighting apartheid and alongside so many others?
And that you find the news that he has been tragically murdered?
Well, my husband was influenced by the thoughts and ideas from people like Steve Biko, like Nelson Mandela and many other leaders of these organisations.
So they felt that freedom should be for all and also for the people who didn't really understand that this was not right, you know, because at some point people become complacent and said, Well, what can we do?
But he was one of those people who was determined that until everyone is free, then him having a lot degree and probably he could have had a good job in South Africa in a good life.
But he didn't feel that that was the right thing to do because he would say, You know about Nelson Mandela that Nelson Mandela was also a lawyer.
He could have had a good job, but he stood for what was right and he was prepared to stay in prison and he was prepared to die in prison for what he believed in.
So he always told me that this was very important, not just for him or for me, but also for our Children and our grandchildren and the generations to come.
It's really quite amazing to see the passion when people know that they are being withheld or they being treated.
As you said as fourth class citizens, knowing that that issue is there, I think that that's one of those very, very difficult things that you realise that you're living with somebody who is so driven to do the right thing, not for himself, as you say, but for generations to come and to have now a memorial recognising the injustice that he served must be something that you reflect on a daily basis.
And I also teach that I'm a grandmother, So I teach my grandchildren.
They were born in Canada.
They've never been to South Africa.
But I always tell them of my background where I came from.
Sometimes they think that I'm just maybe complaining.
I doubt that Lindy, 1981 you have tragically lost your husband.
What goes through your mind as a mother with two Children knowing the awful situation that apartheid has brought on?
What do you decide to do next for your life's journey?
Well, I'm the kind of person who is always looking for the next solution.
So I sat down and I thought, Okay, what next What do I do now?
Do I stay here?
I knew I couldn't go back to South Africa because if he had left as a refugee, it was not easy.
It was not an easy process to go back and at the time things were really starting to heat up in southern Africa.
The South African defence force were intimidating.
They would bomb some houses.
There are some friends that we lost because for a car bomb was placed in their car.
So a lot of people were losing their lives and they were also still surveilling me and wanting to know what I was doing.
So I didn't feel particularly safe, especially for my mental health.
I felt that I was going to spiral down.
So then I sought some advice.
And then somebody suggested that Why don't you try and apply for refugee status in Canada?
And so that's what I did.
And so I got in an interview with the representative from the Canadian, I think High Commissioner.
I'm not sure if the I don't think there's an embassy in South Africa, but somebody came from Pretoria to interview me at the United Nations.
I was accepted as a refugee to come to Canada.
And so tell us what that's in 1981 is that Did it take you?
Were you were able to do that fairly quickly, Or what year did you finally leaves Swaziland and come to Canada?
I'm not quite sure how long the process took, but it was not an instant decision.
I thought about it, and at first I wanted to go to England because my sister was living in in Manchester in England at the time.
And so I thought if I went there, then I would be close to someone that I knew closely.
But unfortunately, they would not accept me with the Children.
So then the next step was to find what the second option.
And so you know, Canada was the He was the place.
So just so I understand Lindy, there was an option for you, an opportunity to go to England.
But you could only go, but not with your Children.
That's correct, which meant that my Children would have had to go to.
There was a place called Mora, borrow in Tanzania, and that's where women and Children living and the ones who didn't have their parents.
They were looked after by other people.
Well, well, you know one thing.
It's interesting that the Canada, this country had an opportunity to frankly do the right thing, which is to welcome not only you, but your Children.
And so you came to Canada.
Did you first arrive in what city?
I landed in Calgary, but the people who actually sponsored me because I came in as a refugee We're living in Picture Butte and it was the church of Saint Catherine's or they call it Parish of ST Captains.
It was a Catholic group of people who had decided to sponsor refugees.
And I happened to fit the bill for what they were looking for at the time.
And so you're now in Calgary.
What brought you Lindy to Winnipeg?
Okay, so keep tribute was a very small town.
It had a small 20 bad hospital, and I was hoping that I would pursue my career, and the chances of ever getting a job in a 20 bed hospital were pretty slim because they don't have a lot of stuff.
And so there's a lady who was living in Winnipeg at the time, studying at the University of Manitoba, who I grew up with, and she was also a single parent.
So when I found out that she was here, I contacted her and I came to visit.
And then after that short visit, she said, Why don't we join hands and work together in raising our team?
So that's when I moved to Winnipeg.
But she's no.
She no longer lives here.
Now she's in Ontario.
So, Lindy, that's an incredible journey that you've just taken us on.
When you think about the fact that the UN General Assembly has deemed July 18th to be Nelson Mandela International Day, do you ever reflect when you hear that name?
Does that make you think back to your time in South Africa and the challenges And I mean, you know, there were challenges, but clearly your family sounded like they were amazing, you know, close and you were big.
Your family is quite large, but do you reflect back on all of the experiences that you have had?
And they it's incredible to to listen to you tell me them.
But when you reflect back on them, what stands out when people sort of mention the name Nelson Mandela.
Oh my goodness.
He stands as a giant amongst many leaders.
He is so well respected around the world.
He stood for his.
He stood up for his ideals.
He never changed.
He never faltered.
And he is somebody who fought for human rights.
He taught us forgiveness.
He taught us kindness.
He's taught us seven would because even after he came out of prison, he was never bitter.
And I'll tell you something that when we were hoping that things would change in South Africa, I think what was in most people's hearts was then we are going to kick those white people out of South Africa.
They should go back to where they came from.
You know, that was the top.
But this gentle giant, I think, the 27 years behind bars, even though he was imprisoned, his mind was not imprisoned.
He was a free man and he had the opportunity to think.
And then he was able to negotiate the method in the strategy to get rid of apartheid.
So the day he was released from prison in 1990 I remember there was a union centre.
We were gathered at the Union Centre.
And I'm telling you, we danced our hearts out.
We were so happy.
And I mean the mention of his name.
When you say you come from South Africa, if anybody asks you Where do you come from?
So, I mean, he's a stalwart.
He was just such a He was such a courageous man.
I mean, you couldn't help but just love him because he was so down to earth.
He was so humble.
And, you know, spending 27 years in prison in order for his fellow human beings not just the black people, but freedom for all.
And I would just say that when you mentioned freedom for all you've said some very, very eloquent things about an iconic giant Nelson Mandela.
But your husband, Eric, Steve Biko and many, many others, the Mottola 11.
It really is something that I think the world can learn so much from.
And I think one of the I would like to just personally say to you, Lindy, thank you for sharing this time with me to talk about your personal life journey.
You're an extraordinary person.
We're delighted and thrilled that you're living here in Winnipeg, and when you think about what you've been through, I there's been many, many that probably have been through things similar to you.
But there are many, many also Lindi that would not have the strength to do what you've done and just think that it it's really a testament to the human spirit that you are here in Winnipeg today telling us your life journey.
Thank you so much, Stewart.
I would just like to say that I am so proud of my husband.
I know he dedicated his life to seeing a new South Africa, where everybody lived in freedom and black and white could walk hand in hand together.
And I know it was a very difficult sacrifice for the family, but we are not just one.
I'm just not the only one.
There is a bigger picture here, and the fact that there is a monument with his name on.
I'm just so proud, you know, I'm just so I wish he was here, but things worked the way they did.
But my Children and the generations to come will always have an opportunity to go to my zombie and see what their father, grandfather great grandfather did for the country.
That's a great way to sum this conversation up.
Thank you for that, Lindi.
And thank you for spending some time with me today.
And I hope that once Covid is all said and done, I would love to continue our conversation over a cup of coffee because I just find you incredibly fascinating.
And I thank you for sharing this time with us.
I really appreciate it.
I'm glad to share, not for Kitty, but just to make people aware that we are all one.
We are all together in this way.
Okay, Lindy, on that note, I'm going to thank you very much for your time and spending it with me today.
We have a wonderful rest of the day and and again, thank you so very, very much.
Yes, And have a great summer to thank you for having me by by by humans on Rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart Murray, Social Media Marketing by the creative team at full current and Winnipeg.
Thanks also to Trixie.
Maybe you in music by Doug Edmund.
For more go to human rights hub dot c A.
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