A Plea for Lilian - Buthelezi

From Mangosuthu Buthelezi - June 1, 1977

Mangosuthu Buthelezi's letter is dated June 1, 1977, and was written on the official stationery of the KwaZulu Government Service, of which he was then chief minister. The letter is addressed to Dr Wolfgang Butt, also of West Germany, who had written to Buthelezi about Lilian Ngoyi in his capacity as a member of Amnesty International.

This is the extent of callousness and ruthlessness of the present white minority racist Regime.Dear Dr. Wolfgang Butt

I thank you for your letter of the 2nd April.

I have often received letters from members of Amnesty International concerning banned people. Yours deeply touched me as Mrs Ngoyi is well known to me and I am one of her great admirers, having known her, when I was a member of the now banned African National Congress, when she was a leading member of the Women's wing of the African National Congress. She has really suffered from the present Regime being placed under one banning order after another.

I know exactly what prize [sic], my sister Mrs Lillian Ngoyi has paid and is paying for our liberation in South Africa. I wish I could do something about her banning order. The Minister of Bantu Administration Mr. M.C. Botha, to whom I previously sent letters similar to yours, for chanelling to the Minister of Justice, told me that he throws them in a waste paper basket.

This is the extent of callousness and ruthlessness of the present white minority racist Regime.

I will certainly send Mrs Ngoyi a copy of your letter and mine, if only to pick up her spirits a little.

Thanking you for your concern.

Yours sincerely

Mangosuthu G. Buthelezi



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"I am hoping with confidence that, before I die, I will see change in this country."
Lilian Ngoyi
Lilian Ngoyi at her sewing machine.
Picture: © Bailey’s History Archive


Personal letters as historical sources

Working with personal letters is an excellent way of encouraging learners to want to know about people and events in history. They can potentially create an emotional empathy with people who lived in the past.

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Archive Photo Gallery
Images from the public and private lives of Lilian Ngoyi.
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Friends and relatives of Lilian Ngoyi gather for the unveiling of Stephen Maqashela’s artwork.
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