27 August 2012

SA loses a struggle icon and a respected academic

The struggle stalwart, Neville Alexander, died aged 75 at his home in Grassy Park on the Cape Flats, in the Western Cape Province, after a battle with cancer.

Neville was born on the 22nd of October in 1936 in Cradock, Eastern Cape. He became an avid scholar who obtained a PhD in 1961. He was a revolutionary of note and spent 10 years in Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela.

He began his activism work from an early age, joining student organisations and other struggle movements - he later co-founded the National Liberation Front. As can be expected of any freedom fighter at the time, he was subjected to constant harassment and victimisation by the security forces of the apartheid government.

In 1964, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit sabotage and imprisoned with Madiba until his release in 1974 from Robben Island.
Following his release, Neville focused on language policy and planning and became an influential role-player in language policy development in the country.

In 1981, he was appointed Director of the South African Committee for Higher Education (SACHED). At the time of his death, he was a director of Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) at the University of Cape Town. He was also awarded the Linguapax Prize in 2008, in recognition of his contribution to linguistic diversity and multilingual education.

Neville Alexander was very vocal and wrote significantly on issues of non-racialism, socialism, land distribution and inequality among others. In the Julie Frederikse Collection, SAHA is in possession of interview materials which also include an audio interview based on an article from a book which deals with socialism, inequality and land distribution, in which Neville wrote about ‘Approaches to the national question on South Africa', which interrogates the above-mentioned matters.

View the Julie Frederikse Collection (AL2460)