Jay Naidoo’s Foreword to Strikes Have Followed Me All My Life by Emma Mashinini
Jay Naidoo, author of Fighting for Justice, wrote the foreword to the new edition of Emma Mashinini’s autobiography Strikes Have Followed Me All My Life, released by Picador Africa last month and launched at Constitution Hill last week. On his website, Naidoo invites you to read the foreword, in which he recalls his first encounter with the “indomitable Ma Emma”:
I clearly remember my first encounter with Emma Mashinini. The indomitable Ma Emma was standing in the hall at Khotso House, the headquarters of the South African Council of Churches – one of the few places we were able to meet – surrounded and dwarfed by workers. She spotted Jayendra Naidoo first, who was then working as an organiser in the Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa (CCAWUSA), and she embraced him warmly. She turned to hug me, too, and as she did, I felt her intense compassion and warmth as she whispered, ‘Welcome my son. Welcome to our family.’ It was, and has remained ever since, an intense and powerful connection.
Strikes Have Followed Me All My Life was first published in the United Kingdom in 1989. This autobiography of an inspiring individual started off as an attempt by Ma Emma to deal with the torture and devastation she had experienced under the apartheid system. Her friend Betty Wolpert suggested that it might be therapeutic for her to trace her journey and to find closure to a difficult past. In doing so, Ma Emma gives us insight into the life of a courageous woman: wife, mother, factory worker, trade unionist and friend who found herself at the centre of the fight for equal rights in the workplace.
- Strikes Have Followed Me All My Life by Emma Mashinini
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