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Archive for November, 2016

‘I grew up a slave’ – Justice Dikgang Moseneke inspires with his life story at the launch of My Own Liberator

‘I grew up a slave.’ – Justice Dikgang Moseneke inspires with his life story at the launch of My Own Liberator

Former Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa Dikgang Moseneke was recently at Atteridgeville Community Hall in Pretoria to launch his new memoir: My Own Liberator.

I grew up a slave. I grew up oppressed.

This was the main reason he wrote the book, Moseneke told the audience, which included a few prominent politicians such as former President Thabo Mbeki and newly appointed mayors of Pretoria and Johannesburg, respectively, Solly Msimanga and Herman Mashaba.

My Own LiberatorMoseneke was arrested and sent to Robben Island at the age of 15 for activities against apartheid, and he brushed off the suggestion that he was young or immature at that age. In response, he said it was often the young who saw the cracks in an unjust system.

“At 15, I didn’t think I was young. I thought I was equal to the task,” he said.

Moseneke said his generation and comrades took the side of people who said “inkululeko ngexesha lethu – freedom in our lifetime”.

Moseneke spoke of his childhood friends and recounted the bullying he faced as a child. To win over the bullies, he sometimes shared fishcakes and cheesecakes his grandfather, a self-taught chef, brought home from work. When Moseneke had become successful, with a safe career and a comfortable life, he often wondered what his friends and erstwhile bullies had become in terms of their careers.

Moseneke relived the harsh, cruel experiences of prisoners at Robben Island – prisoners being chained in pairs and sometimes taking a fall when the other prisoner fell. But instead of being broken by these experiences, Moseneke used the time to study and better his life.

When an audience member asked the former chief justice to speak on the contentious land issue dominating headlines in South Africa at the moment, Moseneke said “restitution has been slow”. He believes that if everyone had land, there would be nobody living in shacks. For the land issue to be solved, however, he said the government itself may have to consider giving away land it occupied yet didn’t own.

‘I grew up a slave.’ – Justice Dikgang Moseneke inspires with his life story at the launch of My Own Liberator

Mbeki, who wrote the book’s foreword and the one to appoint Moseneke as Deputy Chief Justice during his tenure as president, said My Own liberator was the kind of story that “needed to be told in these directionless times”.

‘I grew up a slave.’ – Justice Dikgang Moseneke inspires with his life story at the launch of My Own Liberator

When the country needed skilled judges for the transformation of the judiciary, people like Moseneke had been more than willing to put their hands up, Mbeki said. Mbeki also took the opportunity to thank Moseneke for the service he had rendered to the country as a judge.

‘I grew up a slave.’ – Justice Dikgang Moseneke inspires with his life story at the launch of My Own Liberator‘I grew up a slave.’ – Justice Dikgang Moseneke inspires with his life story at the launch of My Own Liberator

Lungile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the event:

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New book by Ahmed Kathrada announced: Conversations with a Gentle Soul

Conversations with a Gentle SoulConversations with a Gentle Soul by Ahmed Kathrada, with Sahm Venter, will be published by Picador Africa in February 2017:

Without much fanfare Ahmed Kathrada worked alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other giants in the struggle to end racial discrimination in South Africa. He faced house arrest and many court trials related to his activism until, finally, a trial for sabotage saw him sentenced to life imprisonment alongside Mandela and six others.

Conversations with a Gentle Soul has its origins in a series of discussions between Kathrada and Sahm Venter about his opinions, encounters and experiences. Throughout his life, Kathrada has refused to hang on to negative emotions such as hatred and bitterness. Instead, he radiates contentment and the openness of a man at peace with himself. His wisdom is packaged within layers of optimism, mischievousness and humour, and he provides insights that are of value to all South Africans.

About the authors

Ahmed Mohamed “Kathy” Kathrada was born on 21 August 1929 in Schweizer-Reneke. He entered politics at the age of 12 when he joined a non-racial youth club in Johannesburg that was run by the Young Communist League.

Kathrada was jailed for the first time at the age of 17 in the Passive Resistance Campaign, for defying a law that discriminated against Indians. In 1952, along with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and 17 others, Kathrada was sentenced to nine months in prison with hard labour, suspended for two years, for their involvement in the Defiance Campaign. He received his first banning orders in 1954 and was arrested several times for breaking them.

On 11 July 1963 he was arrested in a police raid on Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia. This led to the Rivonia Trial for sabotage, which resulted in life sentences imposed on Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni. Kathrada was in prison for 26 years and three months, 18 years of which were on Robben Island. A few months after his release on 15 October 1989, the African National Congress was unbanned.

Kathrada served as Mandela’s parliamentary counsellor from 1994 to 1999 and for one term as the chairperson of the Robben Island Museum Council. In 2008, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation was established, with the aim of deepening non-racialism. Kathrada lives in retirement in Johannesburg and Cape Town with his wife, Barbara Hogan. This is his seventh book.

Sahm Venter was born in Johannesburg and worked as a journalist for more than 20 years, mainly for the foreign media and the international news agency The Associated Press. The majority of her journalism career was focused on covering the anti-apartheid struggle and South Africa’s transition to democracy.

Venter was a member of the editorial team for Nelson Mandela’s bestselling book Conversations with Myself. She edited A Free Mind and has co-edited several books, including: Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations, with Sello Hatang; 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69 by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with Swati Dlamini; and Something to Write Home About: Reflections from the Heart of History, with Claude Colart. Venter has also authored a series of books called Exploring Our National Days. She is currently the senior researcher at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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