Nise Malange


Nise was born in Cape Town, where at an early age was influenced by her uncle, Rev. Marawu, who had just returned from serving time on Robben island. Her fascination with her uncle made her follow him everywhere he went and so she became exposed to his work with the trade unions. At age sixteen, Nise was already helping with the typing of documents and the collection of food for migrant labourers. In 1976, Nise went to the Eastern Cape where she continued her schooling in the Whittlesea district, the poverty she witnessed there was another eye opener for Nise as she became aware of the effects of inequality in South Africa.

In 1982 Nise moved to Durban where she joined COSATU, formally beginning her work within the labour movement. In 1983, the union moved her to the Transport and general Workers’ Union, a male dominated union. This when she then started the cultural movement that addressed sexual inequalities within unions. Her writing skills became activated during this period, as they were often required to develop plays to address issues and Nise used to create and write the plays. In 1985 she extended this work to the victims of violence, especially women and children. When the University of Natal established a project, Culture and Working Life, Nise went to work there as a trainer for women factory workers. Her work there involved training on issues relating to culture in the workplace.

In 1991, after the unbanning of all political organizations, Nise founded the Stories that Can Heal project, an initiative that focused on the victims of political violence, using stories and poetry as means of healing past traumas. In 1996, when the Truth and Reconciliation hearings were being undertaken, Nise’s project was invited to extend its work to help victims come to terms with the distressful conditions they were facing. When her work with the TRC was finished, Nise started working as a freelance writer, independently documenting the lives of ordinary South African women. She is currently working with young women who have been victims of rape and sexual abuse.