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Ms Rosita Johnson (USA)

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

Ms Rosita Johnson (USA) Awarded for:
Her outstanding contribution to the well-being of young South African exiles by enabling them to pursue their education, and for raising awareness, in the United States, of the plight of South Africans under apartheid.
Profile of Ms Rosita Johnson

Ms Rosita Johnson and the late Van Elliott Williams founded the Friends of Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO) in June 1987, with the guidance of Godfrey Sithole, the African National Congress (ANC) representative in the Philadelphia area. Its first objective was the collection and shipment of 14 tons of books, school supplies and clothing to the SOMAFCO in Tanzania in 1989.

The youth and children at SOMAFCO had fled the brutality of the apartheid government after the 1976 Soweto Uprising and continuing into the 1980s.

Friends of SOMAFCO was also involved in hosting meetings, conferences and forums to educate the communities about the apartheid system in South Africa and the liberation struggle led by the ANC. Members distributed literature at Unity Day and other public gatherings.

The second project was sponsoring a teacher at SOMAFCO, Keith Pase, while he studied for his Master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and then raising funds for the ANC Voter Education Fund from 1992 to 1994. When SOMAFCO closed in 1992 and the students, staff and families returned to South Africa, Friends of SOMAFCO donated funds for their return. In 1993 Friends of SOMAFCO members served on the Welcome Mandela Committee to plan a People’s Rally at the Convention Centre on 4 July 1993 to welcome Nelson Mandela. Over 6 500 people attended.

The 1995/96 Friends of SOMAFCO’s project, ‘Booking It from Philadelphia to Soweto’, collected and shipped 3 000 books respectively to Leboa and Ipolokeng primary schools in Soweto. In 1997 Friends of SOMAFCO adopted Mpontsheng Secondary School in Katlehong as its project for nearly nine years.

More than 3 500 books were collected and shipped to establish a library in the school. Funds were sent for the science laboratory, the library and a security system.

The Friends of SOMAFCO also supported Rosie’s Kitchen in Khayelitsha near Cape Town from 2006 to 2017. The kitchen provides meals to impoverished children and senior citizens.