As minister for Defence in the cabinet named by new South African President Jacob Zuma, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu is undoubtedly one of the most powerful persons in the African powerhouse.
Ms Sisulu is the wife of a Kenyan, Prof. Rok Ajulu, one of the academics who fled the country at the height of the Moi repression targeting independent thinkers and perceived dissidents in the early 1980s.
Prof Ajulu told the Daily Nation on Tuesday that he was not surprised about the appointment since his wife was a fairly senior minister already.
“You are aware she has previously held very senior positions. Having been minister in the Intelligence docket, she has a feel of the happenings in the Defence ministry,” he said.
Prof Ajulu was in Kenya just a month ago, and while visiting prefers to stay in his rural home in Bondo “because it is cheaper”. His wife will accompany him home for a Christmas party later this year where they intend to spend over ten days.
Despite his long period away, Prof Ajulu has never forgotten his Kenyan roots. He has been a regular visitor since the fall of the one-party regime, and maintains close contact with his compatriots from the days of the struggle, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Lands minister James Orengo and Health minister Anyang’ Nyong’o.
His daughter from a previous relationship in England, Achieng Ajulu Bushell, retains close ties with Kenya. An international swimmer, she opted to represent Kenya rather than England or South Africa.
The new Defence minister and her husband are both children of and veterans of the struggle.Ms Sisulu is a daughter of freedom struggle icons Walter and Albertina Sisulu and an icon of the anti-apartheid campaign in her own right. She was arrested and faced a life sentence at 24!
Prof Ajulu took the mantle from his father Stephen Odero Ajulu, who was a political activist in the 1960s under the then opposition Kenya People’s Union. When his father died, Prof Ajulu stepped into the role as an adviser to then opposition leader Oginga Odinga, and then maintained a long collaboration with his son, Mr Raila Odinga.
Prof Ajulu’s father was imprisoned for political activities in Kenya while Ms Sisulu’s parents were imprisoned by the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Prof Ajulu was expelled from the University of Nairobi for political activism and ended up in South African exile via England and Lesotho.
Ms Sisulu also took up political activism and was also imprisoned by the apartheid regime before going into exile to continue her studies at the University of Lesotho. That was where the two met and eventually married in 1996. In addition to children from previous relationships, the couple has a son, Olindi Obango, named after his paternal grandparents.
Che Samora Ajulu is the eldest son and is named after the revolutionary Cuban and Mozambican leaders, Che Guavera and Samora Machel. There is also a daughter Ayanda and a son, Vuyo.
Source: Daily Nation