top of page

Dr Abdullah Abdurahman & Cissie Gool - Life Size

The sculpture depicts the father & daughter, although vastly diffirent in character, united in their fight for justice for their people. Dr Abdruhman was an educator & skilled politician - Cissie Gool was an activist & politician.

Client: National Heritage Foundation - Mr Dali Tambo


Dr Abdullah Abdurahman (1872 - 1940)

He was a descendent of those brought to the Cape as slaves and exiles from the Indonesian islands. He was born in Wellington in the Western Cape on 12 December 1872 and graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Glasgow in 1893.

He was one of the founding members of the African Political Organisation founded in 1902 and he entered public life in 1904 when he became the first person referred to as ‘Coloured’ to be elected to the Cape Town City Council, at a time when white councillors were affronted and reluctant to even sit next to persons of colour. Except for two years between 1913 and 1915 he remained a city councillor up to the time of his death. Dr Abdurahman was also a member of the Cape Provincial Council from 1914 until his death.

Dr Abdurahman retained a seat on the provincial council until his death in 1940. In all of these years he championed the interests of the poor working people of Cape Town and opposed segregation, white domination and racism.Dr Abdurahman was a highly active councillor in the council public committee system. He served on the Public Works Committee; Public Health Committee; Streets and Depot Committee; Finance Committee; Markets and Gardens Committee; Electric Light, Waterworks and Fire Brigade Committee and; the Public Works and Depot Committee.In the years leading up to the declaration of the Union of South Africa and again later in the period 1927 – 1934, Dr Abdurahman tirelessly engaged in efforts to build a united black response to white domination, and opposed the creeping disenfranchisement of people of colour and the increasing introduction of segregation laws.


Zainunnisa "Cissie"Gool (1897 - 1963)

Summary: Leader of the NLL and NEUF, member of the FAC, advocate and representative on the Cape Town City Council..Zainunnisa “Cissie” Gool was born in Cape Town in 1897. Her father was the prominent politician, Dr Abdullah Abdurahman, leader of the African Peoples Organisation (APO) which he had helped to form in 1902. Gool was well educated, and was tutored by both Olive Schreiner and M.K. Ghandi. Gool also attended the Trafalgar Public School, which was founded by her father.

In 1919, Gool married Dr. Abdul Hamid Gool, but left him for fellow activist Sam Kahn in 1936. In the same year, Cissie founded the National Liberation League (NLL) and became its first president, with a membership comprised of the Coloured intelligentsia of Cape Town, including Alex la Guma as secretary.

In 1936, when the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) initiated its United Front programme against the government, in cooperation with the African National Congress (ANC), the NNL was also drawn into the campaign that included strike action, boycotts and demonstrations.

Cissie’s leftist orientation signalled a major political break from her father.From 1938 to 1951, Cissie represented Cape Town’s District Six on the Cape Town City Council, and for several years was the only woman serving on the City Council. In 1949, she was elected chairperson of the city council’s health committee.During the 1940s, Cissie became the president of the Non-European Front and also became more active in a campaign to start passive resistance. She was arrested and charged for her involvement in the 1946 Passive Resistance campaign, but this did not deter her from her political activities. In 1951, she appeared in the Cape Town magistrate’s court for holding a public meeting, and was also active in the Franchise Action Council that was the predecessor of the South African Coloured People’s Organisation (SACPO).

Gool resigned from the City Council in the same year, and was later banned under the Suppression of Communism Act in 1954, which effectively halted her above-ground political activities. In 1962, Cissie received an LLB degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and was admitted as an advocate to the Supreme Court.

She passed away from a stroke in Cape Town in 1963, and was buried at the Muslim cemetery next to her father in Observatory.

Cissie Gool was awarded the Order of Luthuli in Silver by the South African government posthumously for her contribution to the liberation struggle

bottom of page