News 2011: Hero of South Africa anti-apartheid movement at UMass Dartmouth Sept. 26

News 2011: Hero of South Africa anti-apartheid movement at UMass Dartmouth Sept. 26
Hero of South Africa anti-apartheid movement at UMass Dartmouth Sept. 26

Panel discussion to coincide with Kathrada Exhibition depicting life and work of Mandela prison mate and confidante

The Honorable Albie Sachs, a key figure in the South Africa anti-apartheid movement and former Justice of the South Africa Constitutional Court, will participate in a panel discussion at UMass Dartmouth on Monday, September 26 at 6 p.m. at the Main Auditorium.

Sponsored by the UMass School of Law, the panel, entitled, "South Africa Post Apartheid: Can the rule of law be used as a tool to continue South Africa's march towards reconciliation, equality and prosperity?" will also include Mzamo Mangaliso, a professor the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and be moderated by the panel will be moderated by Professor Stephen Clingman of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. All of the participants are natives of South Africa.

As part of the University's discussion of post-Apartheid South Africa, the Dartmouth Campus will also host the "Kathrada Exhibition," named for Ahmed Kathrada, who was among those anti-apartheid activist imprisoned with Nelson mandrel. The exhibit highlight is a life-like, Robben Island Cell. The cell is built to scale and permits a visitor to experience what Mandela, Kathrada and others felt during their decades of confinement. The exhibit is currently under construction University's Foster Administration Building and is expected to open next week and remain open to the public until mid-October.

Prior to the panel discussion, students on the University Campus will be encouraged to view several films which focus on events leading up to and immediately following the vote creating majority rule. Those films are, "Invictus", "Endgame" and a DVD narrated by Albie Sachs on "The Creation of South Africa's Constitutional Court."

More on Albie Sachs

On turning six, during World War II, Albie Sachs received a card from his father expressing the wish that he would grow up to be a soldier in the fight for liberation.

His career in human rights activism started at the age of seventeen, when as a second year law student at the University of Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Three years later he attended the Congress of the People at Kliptown where the Freedom Charter was adopted. He started practice as an advocate at the Cape Bar aged 21. The bulk of his work involved defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws. Many faced the death sentence. He himself was raided by the security police, subjected to banning orders restricting his movement and eventually placed in solitary confinement without trial for two prolonged spells of detention.

In 1966 he went into exile. After spending eleven years studying and teaching law in England he worked for a further eleven years in Mozambique as law professor and legal researcher. In 1988 he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of an eye.

During the 1980s working closely with Oliver Tambo, leader of the ANC in exile, he helped draft the organisation's Code of Conduct, as well as its statutes. After recovering from the bomb he devoted himself full-time to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. In 1990 he returned home and as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC took an active part in the negotiations which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. After the first democratic election in 1994 he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court.

In addition to his work on the Court, he has travelled to many countries sharing South African experience in healing divided societies. He has also been engaged in the sphere of art and architecture, and played an active role in the development of the Constitutional Court building and its art collection on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg.

More on the Kathrada Exhibit

Nelson Mandela's prison mate, confidante, parliamentary counselor and friend Ahmed Kathrada is the subject of a new nationally touring exhibition developed by the Michigan State University Museum. "Ahmed 'Kathy' Kathrada: A South African Activist for Non-Racialism and Democracy" tells the story of the renowned advocate for freedom, as well as the anti-apartheid movement itself through the life and work of South Africa's beloved "Kathy."

"The exhibit traces Kathrada's roots, and his role in revolutionary struggle and social transformation," explains C. Kurt Dewhurst, MSU Museum curator of folklife and cultural heritage and one of the exhibit's organizers. "One of the more moving and dramatic elements of the exhibit is a replica of Kathy's jail cell, from the notorious Robben Island prison. Visitors are able to experience the tiny cell and see the few personal items Kathy was allowed for more than 20 years of imprisonment."

A similar exhibit was developed in South Africa and is now based at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto. Meanwhile, plans are also under way to construct a new Ahmed Kathrada Center Museum in his honor in Lenasia (in Johannesburg), South Africa, in 2014. Leading in these efforts is Dewhurst, who is also director of arts and cultural initiatives, University Outreach an Engagement. As a consulting advisor, Dewhurst has been working with the Board of Directors of the Kathrada Foundation to develop research, collections, exhibition and operational plans in support of its mission of "deepening non-racialism and democracy in society."