Watch the memorial video and tributes to Ncane Maziya here.

21 June, 2021: A quiet presence with a powerful impact, Ncane Maziya will be remembered by her Gender Links (GL) family for the mountains that she moved for gender equality in her home country, Eswatini, and across the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

On learning of her passing away in the early hours of 21 June at the age of 59, GL Chair Emily Brown announced that the reception room in the GL Offices in Johannesburg, South Africa would be renamed the Ncane Maziya Reception Room. “I cannot think of a more fitting tribute, than that the room we first enter as we go to work each day becomes a reminder of this determined and loyal foot solider for gender justice,” she said.

“Make Ncane joins Malepota Mafeka (Lesotho); Sarry Xoagus-Eisis (Namibia) and Saeanna Chingamuka (Zimbabwe) in our sheroes gallery where their legacy daily inspires us to continue our fight for women’s rights,” added GL Executive Director Kubi Rama.

“Calm, gentle, kind, composed, motherly, more than fair, sweet, energetic, determined, loving and giving. She cared with a passion unlike anything that we have ever seen. She was there for everyone. Ncane was very humble and respectful even to younger colleagues,” added GL Local Action for Gender Justice Regional Manager, Priscilla Maposa.

Ncane Maziya founded and registered GL Eswatini in 2009. Prior to that, she worked for the then Swazi Observer. In her 2012 Learning Journey she wrote:

“My association with GL dates back to 2003 when we developed the Swaziland Media Gender Watch Organisation (SMEGWA) through a Gender and Media workshop conducted by GL. That was my first learning journey. It was difficult sometimes to be involved as an Executive Committee member especially where you don’t share the same vision with as members, but I am happy because it was a learning curve for me. Among other notable events I helped organise the launch of the Gender and Media Baseline Study and SMEGWA in 2004. SMEGWA members disappeared when I needed them. I had to shoulder all the work but the event was a success.”

As GL spread its wings into new areas of work, notably the Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local government, the organisation (then led by Colleen Lowe Morna, now Special Advisor to GL) asked her to formally register an office. “Make Ncane was totally dependable,” Lowe-Morna recalled. “We could not have wished for a more dedicated Driver of Change. GL ran in her veins.”

Retired GL Board Member and former head of the GL Francophone office Loga Virasawmy recalls: “Ncane went through many challenges. One evening we had a one to one talk as she wanted to know the procedures in Mauritius to open a GL satellite office. She told me how difficult it was for her although she was trying very hard. She fought and she won.

“Ncane was not IT literate but challenged herself to work on a laptop. She got her own laptop which became her treasure. I still remember how she struggled to learn new skills and techniques when we were given a course by Microsoft. We sat next to each other so that we could both learn together and helped each other. Intelligent Ncane showed how she was a fast learner.

In her Learning Journey, Maziya reflected: “Working with GL has changed my life in that I found this organisation a family from the top to bottom. The capacity building on skills and knowledge I received have changed my life…”

Maziya fought to keep the GL Eswatini office alive through many funding challenges. She continued doing the work in times when the office was in hibernation, serving voluntarily on the GL Association.

Make Ncane spearheaded the work of the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance and facilitated the registration of the Eswatini Young Women’s Alliance. She served as a coordinator for the African Women in Dialogue (AfWID) initiative. Mncanco, as she was popularly known by partners, will be best remembered for her work with local authorities, especially the Sunrise Campaign – Empower Women, End Violence, entrepreneurship training for survivors of GBV. Over the past several months, the COVID-19 pandemic posed may challenges to this work. In her Lessons in Lockdown reflections – Maziya’s last Learning Journey with GL – she reflected:

“The challenges I came across did not stop me from implementing the most important activities. I have learnt that one should not hold up on stress because it affects your life and work related issues. Talking about your problems to someone helps you to relieve stress. Some of the challenges were testing my courage, strength and faith. But I am overcoming all challenges as I walk through the journey of my life. I took all the challenges I have faced so far as a test that I am determined to pass.”

Maziya liked dancing. At one GL Christmas party she was unanimously nominated to be the judge of best dancer! She loved cooking and spending time with her family. While others complained about food, Maziya always counted her blessings; gave thanks for what was on her plate and did not leave a single crumb at any meal. She saved her per diem so that she could shop for her grandchildren at Eastgate. “There was no need for Ncane to wear expensive clothes or to wear makeup as all the beauty was in her heart,” says Virasawmy.

Most of all, recalls Maposa, Make Ncane taught her colleagues “to remain steadfast in prayer:

Romans 14.8: For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords.”

Maziya is survived by three sons: Lucky Muzimba, Nathi Mzimba and Sanele Mzimba and two daughters: Lerato Mkhonta and Tengentile Mkhonta as well as five grandchildren: Ncobile Mzimba, Sphesihle Mzimba, Ntethelelo Mzimba, Melokuhle Phiri and Ndalolenhle Shabalala

Go well sister Ncane Elizabeth Maziya

Hamba kahle Make Ncane, Ulale ngekuthula

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