15 March 2010

Fatima Meer: a life of leadership

SAHA commemorates the life and work of anti-apartheid icon, Fatima Meer, who passed away on Friday, March 12, 2010 in Durban, South Africa. Meer is remembered for her life-long contribution to uplifting the plight of the poor, downtrodden and oppressed peoples of the world.

Her foray into activism dates back to 1944, when she participated in efforts to raise aid for famine relief in Bengal, India. Along with her husband Ismail, she soon became involved in the Indian Passive Resistance Campaign, which was pivotal in bringing together the National Indian Congress (NIC) and the African National Congress (ANC).

Meer was detained in 1976, and banned by the apartheid regime, but this did little to quell her powerful contribution to the struggle, as well as her prolific writing career. Meer's publications include Trial of Andrew Zondo, about an executed ANC guerrilla, Higher than Hope, a biography of Nelson Mandela, and Power of the Powerless, dedicated to society's underdogs. Her screenplay of Mahatma Gandhi's experiences in South Africa was bought by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Since 1994, Meer's contribution to transitional justice and higher learning has made her an icon of South African democracy. SAHA salutes Fatima Meer in her support of the United Democratic Front (UDF), as well as her belief in the important role of civil society in South Africa.



Fatima Meer addressing a UDF rally (Original SAHA Collection)