Jessie Duarte turns 66 years old today. Briefly.co.za celebrates the mbokodo's birthday by looking at her inspiring life and her journey through the politics of South Africa over the years.
1. Early childhood
Jessie Yasmin Duarte was born on 19 September, 1953 in Newclare, Johannesburg. She was one of nine siblings. She matriculated at the Coronationville Secondary School.
2. Early political work
In 1979, Albertina Sisulu recruited Duarte to establish women's structures throughout the country. By 1981 she was serving as the provincial secretary of the Federation of Transvaal Women (FEDTRAW). During this period, she worked with Reverend Beyers Naude to set up and administer a scholarship fund to educate and skill activists.
She was detained without trial in 1988, released and placed under restriction orders until the State of Emergency was lifted.
4. Working relationship with Nelson Mandela
She was the personal assistant to former President Nelson Mandela until 1994. During South Africa’s negotiations to a democracy from 1991 to 1994, Duarte was a member of the Regional Executive Committee of the ANC; she subsequently served as a special assistant to Nelson Mandela (1990 to 1994).
5. Current position
Duarte was elected Deputy Secretary General of the ANC at the 53rd National Conference in Mangaung, December 2012.
The ANC took to social media to wish her a happy birthday. The party says that the woman embodies the best traditions and values of the Congress movement.
"A decisive, inspirational and unifying leader, Cde Duarte has always served as a glue that holds the organisation together during difficult and decisive moments for our movement."
The party thanked her for her contribution to the liberation of South Africans.
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