Zakiya Somburu Revolutionary Fighter
August 30, 1951 – January 4, 2010
We are sorry to announce the passing of Zakiya Somburu on January 4, 2010 at 5:30 A.M. after a long illness. She was diagnosed with colon cancer on April 10, 2007.
Zakiya, cherished mother, wife, aunt, cousin, sister, was not only a life-long socialist but a human rights, social-justice, antiwar and woman’s-rights activist. She was both a Black nationalist and an internationalist. She was active in the Black liberation movement and was involved in the effort to establish a Black independent political party. She was also active in Black women’s health issues and organizations. She was educated and worked in the field of public health for many years.
She fought her illness as she did injustice. She waged a courageous fight in the face of the hardship of having to battle the chaotic U.S. healthcare system. Certain of her health conditions went undiagnosed. For instance, she only recently found out she suffered from Celiac disease, which weakens the immune system. It’s a digestive disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is ingested. People with the disease need to follow a strict gluten-free diet for the rest of their lives to avoid serious complications including cancer. She was denied the $350.00 test that could have diagnosed this disease and significantly improved her condition had she been aware of it. Other important tests and procedures were denied her or were administered too late. Some of the treatments she endured made her condition worse. But she did her research and informed others of what she found that helped; and what she found that didn’t help—always thinking of others besides herself.
She was very well aware of the anarchy of the U.S. medical system—trials on drug treatments that are kept secret from competing drug companies and patients; doctors that focus treatment on drugs and chemotherapy because they or the hospital they are associated with are wined and dined by the drug companies; even medical colleges who keep secretes from each other for competitive reasons—a system that works against the interests and well being of patients themselves.
We will remember her for her revolutionary leadership, warmth, intelligence and comradeship and will sorely miss her contributions to the world. Her passing is a great loss for all of us. But her example will live on as a challenge for us to follow.
Zakiya’s family is planning a memorial service and celebration of Zakiya’s life in the Bay Area in the coming weeks. If you would like receive an email notice of her memorial when it is announced write us at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 415-824-8730