Every year the eThekwini Municipality calls for submissions from the public for people they think are deserving of a Living Legend Award. Nominations come from far and wide, with recipients of the prestigious award ranging from Members of Parliament to wonderfully eccentric doormen who do our city proud. It is through this public process that we get to discover and celebrate unsung heroes; people who have done so much for so little in return.

Very little has been written about Alzina Zondi, but without men and women like Alzina, South Africa’s liberation would just not have been possible. Alzina is one of the thousands upon thousands of everyday people who risked their lives to stand up for what they believed in. She was one of the twenty thousand women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the oppressive pass laws. Speaking about this time Alzina tells how so many of the women were carrying ‘babies’. “What was funny was that these babies did not cry even once during all that commotion”, says Alzina as she explains that many of the women carried a bundled rug and cushion in the hope that it would protect them from being beaten by the police. And this is but one moment in a lifetime of memories that Alzina has of the many years that she fought the apartheid government. Alzina’s name appears in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report when Nomzamo Nyawose recounts how Alzina cared for her in Swaziland where her parents were in exile. It was Alzina who had to tell Nomzamo that her parents had been killed by ‘the boers’. “I was very close to Alzina Zondi. I almost thought she was my mother”.

Yet despite the tremendous conviction and courage shown by Alzina her name barely features in the records of South Africa’s history. It is precisely these ‘ordinary’ people that eThekwini Living Legends wishes to honour, so that they can recognised and thanked for the extraordinary contributions they have made to society. While we are of course very proud of the many public figures that come from Durban, it is only through the efforts of people like Alzina Zondi that real change is affected.