Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati was born in Tlapeng Village, few kilometres from Ganyesa in Kagisano-Molopo area within the district of Bophirima, now called Dr Ruth Mompati District Municipality, named after her. Born on the 14 September 1925, she grew up in a thoroughly rural environment. Between 1933 and 1940 she attended Vryburg United Primary Schools, where she completed Standard six (6). Two years later, she continued her schooling at Tigerkloof Institution of Education where she received her Native Lower Primary Certificate. In 1944 she started her teaching career at the age of nineteen in Dithakwaneng Primary School near Vryburg.
"She is passionately known as "Mama Ruta" within her community"
She got married in 1952 and moved to Soweto, Johannesburg to stay with in-laws. Immediately became an active member of the ANC Orlando branch. In the same year, she studied short-hand and typing.
In 1953 she was employed by Mandela and Tambo Attorneys as a short-hand typist. She became a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC Women’s League and become one of the founder members of the Federation of South African Women the following year. She was one of the organisers and leaders of the Anti Pass Law march in Pretoria on the 9th August 1956.
In 1962, she left the country for Military training with uMKhonto We Sizwe in the then Soviet Union. She could not return to the country to do her underground work because the ANC leadership had been arrested in Rivonia. She had to become the full-time cadre of the movement in exile.
In 1966 she was elected to the National Executive Committee and during the same year she was transferred to the ANC‘s office in Zambia, but continued to travel between Tanzania and Zambia during the course of her work in the ANC President’s office. In 1966, she was sent to Germany by the movement as the ANC Women’s League secretary to represent the Federation of South African Women in its secretariat.
In 1990, she was chosen to be part of the ANC delegation that negotiated the peaceful transition with the government at Groote Schuur. In 1994 she was elected to the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa and served as a Member of Parliament from 1994-1996 before she seconded to become an Ambassador to Switzerland until 2000.
In 1996, Mama Ruth was awarded an Honorary Masters Degree in Education by the University of the North West in Mahikeng. The scholarship was named after her by Huston-Tillotson University, in Austin, Texas, USA. In 1998, the Medical University of South Africa awarded her an Honorary Doctorate. She has been the Mayor of Naledi Local Municipality from June 2000 until May 2010. In consolidating the vision of the society and the country she liberated, this true activist and daughter of the soil continues to serve community in various capacities. She serves on many Boards, including being Chairperson of the Swiss-South Africa Corporative Initiative Trust