Amanda Bani-Mapena, born in the same small town as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Oliver Tambo, takes inspiration from them and her brother’s selflessness as she ascends the political space to become the youngest member of legislature for the ANC
Amanda Bani-Mapena fondly recalls her late mother pacing through their family home in Bizana (in the Eastern Cape), on the eve of the first democratic elections searching for her ID asking them, “nithi andizo vote(a) mna?” (Are you telling me that I’m not going to vote?).
It is this story along with her late brother Sicelo Bani who was in exile that sparked her interest in politics. “I vividly remember on my 16th birthday my brother gifted me with a book that had ‘APARTHEID’ written boldly on the cover.” Her eyes well up as she recounts this story, with a smile on her face. Clearly a moment most dear to her heart.
Born in the same small town as the late Mam’ uWinnie Madikizela-Mandela and Tat’ uOliver Tambo, Amanda reminisces about the stories she heard about them travelling extensively to fight against the injustices of apartheid, and she remembers the stories sounding fictional but always giving hope to a very impressionable young girl. So, it was only natural that she took to politics like a duck to water.
Born on 16 June 1985, Amanda Bani-Mapena was the first and youngest elected female chairperson for the ANC Youth League in the KwaZulu-Natal region. She’s currently the youngest member of Provincial Legislature from the ANC.
She had her full-circle moment last year when she was sworn in as a member of the provincial parliament and she paid homage to her hometown of Bizana by wearing a dress with Tambo’s face on it.
“Fashion has been my way of expressing myself, and the merging of both fashion and politics was something that occurred unintentionally. But I now understand what that has done for the young ladies that are going to enter positions of political importance and the narrative this will have about women in politics, moving forward,” Bani-Mapena says.
She also caused quite a stir at this year’s State of The Province address when she wore a custom MAXHOSA AFRICA gown that took over her social media as many young women and girls in political structures thanked her for merging fashion and politics.
“I joined politics to be a voice for the voiceless. I remember when I was in varsity and not having money to register. I know that feeling, and I told myself then that I never wanted anyone without the financial backing but dreams of taking the baton from those before them and paying it forward. This was one of the main reasons I studied accounting. I wanted to make enough money to take care of my family, as they did for me.”
She bid farewell to the youth league, which coincides with her birthday and she parts with the following words: “It has been a privilege to serve the youth league for as many years as I have, I am humbled by the experience.
“I am thankful to my family, my husband, the women that came before me in the movement, comrades, the people that elected me and trusted me with the responsibility to speak for them. I am highly indebted to you.”
To young women I say, “it is sisterhood that got me here, let’s continue to support each other. The struggle continues.”