Johannesburg Hospital has been renamed Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
You may be asking yourself who is Charlotte Maxeke or why her? Charlotte Maxeke was an African woman of stature who very sadly received little or no historical acclaim for the contributions she made in the history of South Africa, especially the youth.
Charlotte Maxeke was born on the 7th April 1847 in Fort Beaufort, Cape Colony to Mr. and Mrs. S.Y. Manye. She showed the courage, determination and extra-ordinary intellect at an early age, she excelled and completed her secondary school education in record time achieving the highest possible grades. Her family moved to Kimberly where she embarked on two activities, tutoring and music. She taught fundamentals of indigenous language to expatriate holders and basic English. Her musical talents took her to Europe and London where her choir performed in royal performances including to Queen Victoria in the 1897 Jubilee at London Royal Albert Hall. She was offered a church scholarship to Wilberforce University, the AME Church University in Xenia, Ohio. In 1903 Charlotte achieved her Doctorate in Arts and Humanities and met her partner, a fellow graduate Dr. Marshall Maxeke.
Upon her return to South Africa, Dr. Manye took up the post as the first African teacher at Pietersburg. She co-founded the Wilberforce Institute in Evaton which prospered as a primary and secondary school. She and her husband advocated education as the only route to a prosperous and fulfilled life for the Africans of South Africa. Following a short stay in Idutywa where she was a Head Teacher, she was later called by the South African Ministry of Education to testify before several government commissions in Johannesburg on matters concerning African education. Here brilliant and creative responses to the questions put to her resulted in a number of racial boundary crossing job offers, the first of their kind ever made by the white government to an African.
She was employed in the dual role as a Probation Officer and Court Welfare Officer to Johannesburg’s Juvenile Magistrates Court. She was also co-founder of two groups, AME Church Widow’s Mite Society and Foreign Missionary Society which were responsible for funding and educating thousands of young Africans, many in the United States and Britain and also caring for the sick and indigent Africans at home. She authored most of the ANC’s earliest literature and supported human rights and dignity.
Dr. Charlotte Manye Maxeke passed away on 16 October 1939 and was regarded as everyone’s friend and no one’s enemy.
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