ZAM Reporter

Amsterdam Building named after South African lesbian and feminist

This is Tania Leon (1945-1996). Her image graces the door giving access to a building at the health care campus of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam in the South Eastern part of the city.

The artwork was unveiled inJanuary, 2024, an event attended by students and friends of the late South African activist. Running away for apartheid, Leon moved into exile in the early seventies of last century. For many years, she was an active participant in Dutch solidarity campaigns with the struggle against Apartheid. She was also founder of a fund in support of South African students from suppressed communities. The fund was named after Leon in 1996, the year she passed away.

Leon was a principled feminist and fighter for equal rights for lgbtiq+ people. In an interview in 1982 with her in Zuidelijk Afrika Nieuws, a magazine published by the Anti Apartheid Movement, she said: “If you are against racism, you have to worry about anti-semitism and the suppression of homosexuals as well.”

In her book Oude Dozen her long time Dutch friend Marja Vuisje wrote about Leon: “'Tania had an exceptional talent for friendship. She made you feel seen and appreciated in a pleasant way, she was averse to malicious gossip, and you could laugh uncontrollably with her, including at the cramped feelings of feminists who were afraid of saying something wrong about "minorities"'

Want to find out more about Tania Leon? Check out this profile by Vuijsje, published in ZAM in October 2021.