Across Boundaries

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MAMPHELA RAMPHELE is vice-chancellor of the University of Capetown in South Africa.

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Across Boundaries

The Journey of a South African Woman Leader
Mamphela Ramphele

Foreword by Johnnetta B. Cole

"Survival,” writes Mamphela Ramphele, “is a stronger force than the fear of offending others.” Born black and female in apartheid-ruled South Africa, Ramphele went on to become one of the most distinguished women on the African continent—a prominent activist, medical doctor, anthropologist, teacher, university leader, as well as a mother to two sons. Across Boundaries chronicles Ramphele's inspiring journey, and reveals the staggering personal losses that coexisted with her astonishing political and professional achievements.

In addition to recounting the fascinating and often gripping events of her life, she describes the personal side of her experiences—her early struggles to maintain dignity and hope in a world that devalued both black people and women; her battles against despair, especially after the murder of her colleague and lover Steven Biko and the death of her third child in infancy; her mistakes and regrets as well as her triumphs.

"Across Boundaries is an autobiography that captures both a unique heart and a nation's history. Because Mamphela Ramphele began her life as a shy child born into the cage of apartheid—and gradually became an activist who helped set South Africa free—her personal story enlarges each reader's sense of possibilities. Because she was part of the Black Consciousness Movement that linked the personal to the political, she teaches us that race, sex, and class are linked, and that enemies can only be defeated if we refuse to imitate them. . . . No matter where or how each of us lives, Across Boundaries gives us a rare leader who teaches us to teach ourselves."

—Gloria Steinem

"Mamphela Ramphele's autobiography is stunningly moving and inspiring. Her struggle to build a life amidst South Africa's apartheid and the personal tragedies she has survived touches one with wonder at the powers of the human spirit to endure and triumph. Throughout her life, overriding each wall placed before her and every grief encountered, she has been unwavering in her commitment to a country and a world where there is peace, freedom, and love between all peoples."

—Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children's Defense Fund

"Using adversity to advance the cause of freedom and justice, Mamphela Ramphele created an oasis of humanity and dignity in a wilderness of despair and oppression. . . . This is [her] riveting testimony told in her inimitable way."

—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"Ramphele's life and work are illustrative of her indomitable spirit. She makes life better for all who know her and for many others as well."

—Frank Thomas, President, Ford Foundation, 1982-1996

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