1998 • Social Justice Award

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Phyllis Jordan was born to a wealthy Transkei family in the 1920's.  Her earliest memories and experiences are of a relatively privileged childhood and it is her upbringing in this region that lends vivacity and spirit to her stories.

She attended school in Healdtown and Lovedale, followed by a degree course at the University of Fort Hare.  It was at university that she met her future husband, A C Jordan.  She continued her education and received a BA from UNISA followed by a Comparative African Government and Law degree from the University of Cape Town and an Early Childhood Education qualification from Madison Area Technical College. 

Her privileged life is chronicled in her book "A Life's Mosaic : the Autobiography of Phyllis Ntantala", published in 1993 by the University of California Press.   

The book is not of a struggle to escape from poverty and obscurity but tells the story of a creative and articulate black woman's search for identity and fulfillment.  What makes Phyllis' book so unusual is the fact that her world cuts across apartheid.  Her parents emigrated to the USA in the early 1960s, just as the apartheid net began to tighten but Phyllis and her family found no escape, as racial discrimination was prevalent in the USA.

Phyllis' combination of her own politics and feminism led her to pursue various careers.  She has been a teacher, social worker, linguist and author as well as an activist. 

She was recently awarded an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by her alma mater in recognition of her life's work. 
Apart from her autobiography, Phyllis is the author of several books, articles and essays.  She recently composed "Ah! Rolihlahla" an epic poem in Xhosa (with English translation) which was published by Amelia House in 1988 to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday.  She continues to write and is currently working on various books and translations. 

Phyllis has had a life filled with rich experiences as the wife and mother of famous men – the pioneering scholar A.C, and the ANC activist and intellectual Pallo Jordan.