MaSisulu, as she was affectionately known, was born Nontsikelelo Thethiwe in the village of Camama in the former Transkei on October 21 1918. She graduated from Mariazell College in 1939, and chose a career in nursing. She started training at Johannesburg General Hospital in 1940, and it was there that she first met Walter Sisulu, a young political activist, in 1941. They were married in 1944.
Albertina got involved in politics when she joined the African National Congress (ANC) Women's League in 1955, and took part in the launch of the Freedom Charter the same year. She was also among those in 1956 who led a women's march to the Union Buildings to protest against the pass laws that prevented free movement of non-whites.
Albertina was arrested after her husband skipped bail to go underground, becoming the first woman to be arrested under the then General Laws Amendment Act of 1963. The act gave the police the power to hold suspects in detention for 90 days without charging them. Albertina was placed in solitary confinement for almost two months. She was subsequently in and out of jail for her political activities, but she continued to resist against apartheid, despite being banned for most of the 1960s. She was also a key member of the United Democratic Front in the 1980s.
For more than 50 years, Albertina committed herself to The Albertina Sisulu Foundation, which works to improve the lives of small children and old people. She was honoured for her commitment to the anti-apartheid struggle and her social work when the World Peace Council, based in Basel, Switzerland, elected her president from 1993 to 1996.
Albertina Sisulu passed away on 2 June 2011.