Blooming out of Bitterness: Julia Mavimbela

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Julia Mavimbela

“Let us dig the soil of bitterness, throw in a seed, show love, and see what fruits will grow. Love will not come without forgiving others. Where there was a bloodstain, a beautiful flower must grow.”

Before you start imagining this quote as a frilly, floral meme, you should know something about the woman who said it – and why. Her name was Julia Nompi Mavimbela.

Julia was born in South Africa in 1917 and lived in Soweto both during and after Apartheid. She was well-educated and spoke seven languages. She was a kindergarten teacher and became one of the first black women principals in the Transvaal Province in South Africa. She married John Mavimbela who was one of the founders of the Black Chamber of Commerce in Soweto.

On June 9, 1955, John was killed while driving home from work when his car was hit by an oncoming vehicle, leaving her widowed with several children. The police blamed John for the accident, even though the head-on collision occurred on his side of the road. They claimed “that Blacks were careless drivers.

Sister Mavimbela said of that time, “I knew that I was still bitter over my husband’s death, but I also knew where I was and that perhaps the Lord could use me.”

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