South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

Frances "Ma" Baard

(1901 - 1997)

Frances “MaBaard” Baard was born in 1901. She worked as a domestic servant and then as a teacher but was turned into a militant as a result of her experiences of oppression and exploitation in South Africa. As a budding activist she drew her influence from Raymond Mhlaba and Ray Alexander.

During the 1952 Defiance Campaign she was an organizer of the ANC Women's League, and later became secretary and treasurer of the League's Port Elizabeth branch. She was also national treasurer of the Women's League and on the executive committee of the Federation of South Africa Women in the mid-1950s. She played a leading role in the Women’s march to protest against passes in 1956. She was actively involved with the drafting of the Freedom Charter in 1955 and became one of the defendants in the marathon Treason Trial.

In 1956 she became a member of the executive committee of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). She was detained in 1960 and again in 1963, when she was held for 12 months in solitary confinement. In 1964 she was sentenced to five years imprisonment for ANC activities and in terms of the Suppression of Communism Act. After her release in 1969, she was banned and restricted to Mabopane, near Pretoria. In the 1980s Frances worked with the United Democratic Front, a body that was formed bringing together civic workers, churches and other organizations to oppose the introduction of Botha’s Tricameral Parliament. MaBaard died in 1997.


This biography is from South African History Online. Used by permission. 
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