An introduction to our heroine, Ruth First

​​Ruth First came from an immigrant background but went on to lead an extraordinary life as a South African. An outstanding writer, intellectual and political thinker, this brave and unconventional woman shunned a comfortable and privileged life to become a formidable leader in the anti-apartheid struggle.
Ruth was born in 1925 and enrolled at Jeppe High School for Girls in 1939, in 10th Grade. Her parents were both committed Communists and First’s talents as a leader, writer and thinker were already apparent during her school years. A library prefect, she excelled at writing, winning the English prize and obtaining a distinction in English in her final year of school.

Jeppe High School for Girls has launched the Ruth First Jeppe Memorial Trust in memory of its most prominent alumna. Drawing together the fine traditions of Jeppe Girls and the legacy of Ruth First, the Trust aims to provide scholarships and support that will help turn other young women from ordinary circumstances into principled leaders who will make a difference in South African society. 

"Ruth First was a wonderful friend, a brilliant thinker and writer and remarkably courageous in pursuit of freedom. I will do everything I can to honour her memory".


Albert "Albie" Louis Sachs is an activist and a former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He was appointed to the court by Nelson Mandela in 1994 and retired in October 2009.

Today Jeppe High School for Girls is a school of which we believe Ruth First would have been proud.   


Jeppe High School was originally established in 1890 as the private St Michael’s College. It reopened its doors after the Anglo-Boer War as a public school. The Girls’ School commenced in its own right in 1919.