What's Happening ?


Fieldworkers aspire to become Archivists

Xoliswa Mtshali and Nompumelelo Gumbi spent the 11-12 July 2016 at the Alan Paton Centre (APC), doing Work Integrated Learning (WIL). They undertook WIL at the University of KwaZulu Natal Libraries, Pietermaritzburg campus. The students are from the Durban University of Technology (DUT). They are studying towards a National Diploma in Library and Information Studies. The two students completed fieldwork at Circulation, Inter-Library Loan (ILL), and the Subject Librarian Unit. The two young ladies said they “found the APC very interesting and have learnt the importance of South African History and legends such as Alan Paton, and how it is important to keep all the documents for future reference”. They were taught how to do archival work by numbering and arranging the documents by order. They said “it was a great experience touching the original Alan Paton’s documents and seeing his study room” They said “it was an honour to be at the APC and they now wish to become archivists”.


  1. X. Mtshali _ N. Gumbi
    July 29, 2016
  2. Xoliswa Mtshali
    July 29, 2016
  3. Nompumelelo Gumbi
    July 29, 2016


Alan Paton Play: A Voice I Cannot Silence

The Playhouse Company, an agency of the Department of Arts & Culture, presented a play on Alan Paton entitled A Voice I Cannot Silence. The play was held on 13 May 2016 at the Playhouse Loft Theatre. Staff of Alan Paton Centre was invited to attend. Sherian Latif attended on behalf of the APC. The play is a winner of three 2016 Naledi Awards movingly and empathetically exams the life of Alan Paton through his own words, stories, poems and autobiographies. The characters are played by Ralph Lawson (Alan Paton) Claire Mortimer (Anne Hopkins) and Menzi Mkhwane (Sponono). The stage set by Nadia Cohen was ideal with books, papers and letters and a whisky glass buried beneath the unruly heap. Bookshelves lined with serious looking tomes, and a step down from the circular stage that brings the characters closer to the audience. The play explores weighty and often controversial issue such as Paton’s position with the Liberal party, his years as a principal at Diepkloof Reformatory, and his belief in the struggle for human rights.


UKZN VC visits the APC

The University of KwaZulu-Natal Vice Chancellor, Dr. Albert van Jaarsveld, paid an informal visit to the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives on the 24 May 2016. Dr. van Jaarsveld was invited by Prof. Mbongeni Malaba, the Chair of the APC Advisory Committee to view the Centre’s wonderful collections. The VC was inspired by Alan Paton’s works and was amazed at the Collections held in the Centre. Dr. van Jaarsveld enjoyed tea and refreshments with the members of the APC Advisory Committee after a brief tour of the Centre. Mr. Nazim Gani (Senior Librarian at the APC) explained to the VC that the vision of the Alan Paton Centre is to continue to be a centre for excellence for researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and to highlight and publicize the collections, to make researchers and students more aware of their value.

  1. Dr Albert van Jaarsveled-Members of the APC ADCOM
    June 13, 2016
  2. Dr Albert van Jaarsveled-Prof.Mbongeni Malaba-Staff of APC
    June 13, 2016


Gift of the Givers proud record of providing assistance highlighted at the

23rd Alan Paton lecture 2016

Details of challenges and successes experienced by volunteers of the Gift of the Givers during its 24 years of existence, were highlighted by the aid organisation’s founder, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, in a lecture at UKZN.
Delivering the 23rd annual Alan Paton Memorial Lecture on the Pietermaritzburg campus, Sooliman spoke about the actions of volunteers of Gift of the Givers from their first relief work in Bosnia in 1994 to the disaster relief they provided to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010.
Speaking under the theme of human rights and humanitarianism, Sooliman, an honorary UKZN graduate, emphasised the need for better understanding and compassion among people, saying that folk need to be reminded to retain their Ubuntu (human kindness).
‘Man has lost humanity. We forget sometimes that we all bleed the same, we all experience the same pain.’
With delivery of about R1.4-billion in aid to 41 countries, the organisation has been instrumental in ensuring pioneering services, including developing the world’s first containerised mobile hospital for use in Bosnia; rescuing the first survivor of the Haiti quake eight days after the event, and boldly asking the Pope to ensure safe passage of the organisation’s members to Haiti.
Sooliman explained that often rules and bureaucracy hindered the need to help others as quickly as possible. There was a need to focus on quick action instead of meetings. Sooliman’s philosophy is one of love, mercy, compassion and kindness and these reflect the legacy of Alan Paton.

* The Alan Paton Lecture. held annually on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus, commemorates Alan Paton's life as well as providing a forum to discuss areas of interest he was most involved in during his lifetime, including liberalism, the struggle against apartheid, reform for juvenile offenders as well as education, environment, literary, and human rights issues.

  1. Dr Imtaaz Sooliman
    June 09, 2016
  2. Guests attending lecture
    June 09, 2016
  3. Joyce Myeza_Dr I. Sooliman_Members of ADCOM
    June 09, 2016


Natal Society Foundation book launch: Standing on Street Corners: A History of the Natal Midlands Region of the Black Sash by Mary Kleinenberg and Christopher Merrett

The Natal Society Foundation hosted a book launch on Saturday, 16 May 2015 at the Tatham Art Gallery to launch their new book Standing on Street Corners: A History of the Natal Midlands Region of the Black Sash co-authored by Mary Kleinenberg and Christopher Merrett.  The guest speakers were Di Oliver and Paula Krynauw. 

Mary Kleinenberg was a former regional chairperson and present Black Sash trustee.  Christopher Merrett is an academic historian, writer and publishing editor. 

The book, a handsome thread-sewn hard-cover with dust jacket, was launched to mark the 60th anniversary of Black Sash in South Africa on 25 May. The book contains numerous photographs of the personalities and activities of local Black Sash since the mid 1950s when the branch was formed as well as lists of members and those associated with the organisation.

According to the Publishers, The Natal Society Foundation, this book looks specifically at the Natal Midlands (Pietermaritzburg) region and the distinctiveness of its contribution.  Like other regions it supported the liberation struggle through public protest and educational campaigns aimed at exposing iniquitous apartheid legislation. 

Sylvia Vietzen in her review of the book said “this is a most impressive book”.  It tells how a relatively small group of women took a stand against the apartheid government’s serious encroachment on the rights and freedom of the people of this country.  

 (L-R) Di Olivier, Mary Kleinenberg, 
Paula Krynauw and 
Christoper Merrett

Photo supplied with kind permission by Sibusiso Mboto


Alan Paton Lecture 2015
Public Lecture Commemorates Renowned Author, Alan Paton

Renowned author Alan Paton had been a passionate reformer in the field of justice for children, Director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, Professor Ann Skelton, revealed during the 22nd Alan Paton Lecture which she delivered on Wednesday, 29 April 2015, at the Colin Webb Hall on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

This lecture, hosted by UKZN’S Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives, has been given since 1994, to commemorate Paton’s life and to discuss topics which Paton was most involved in during his lifetime.

Skelton, who has worked as a human rights lawyer in South Africa for 25 years specialising in children’s rights, is also an established researcher, and has published extensively in the fields of child law, family law, constitutional law, criminal justice and restorative justice.

Skelton said it was a great honour to be invited to deliver the Alan Paton Lecture, and a pleasure to be back in her home town of Pietermaritzburg and Alma Mater, UKZN.

Her lecture, titled: "Vakasha: Alan Paton and Justice for Child Offenders", reflected on a side of Paton which was not well known. She said although Paton was renowned for his writing, a part of him less public was that he was also a passionate reformer in the field of justice for children.

Skelton spoke of Paton becoming the principal at Diepkloof Reformatory School in 1935 where he experimented with other forms of punishment besides retributive and deterrent. He explored the ideas of reformatory punishment, which replaces the word punishment with treatment. Skelton spoke of Paton introducing controversial progressive reforms, including a system where boys at the school were encouraged to take personal responsibility and they were granted rewards and graduated freedom. Some of the changes he made included policy for open dormitories, work permits and home visitations. Boys were initially housed in closed dormitories and once they had proven themselves trustworthy they would be transferred to open dormitories within the compound.

Skelton spoke to a unique attribute of Paton’s approach, whereby he had placed importance on public ritual and ceremony. A ritual, referred to as ‘Vakasha’ meaning ‘to go for a walk’, entailed a boy receiving a shirt with a pocket covered with a piece of green cloth, called a ‘Vakasha badge’. This was a confirmation of the gradual freedom a boy had received.

Skelton had noted that in 1946, Paton went on an international tour to look at reformatory schools in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and the United States. And it was during this tour that he penned his famous book Cry the Beloved Country.

Skelton said in her concluding remarks that Paton played a vital role in bringing about justice for children, a vision which was before its time, as he had focused on each child as an individual. She noted that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child guides the modern approach to children’s rights, which advocates treating child offenders in a manner that promotes a child’s sense of dignity and worth. Its desired aim is to rehabilitate and re-integrate children as opposed to retribution. An aim she said Paton knew well of as he had practised ‘Ubuntu’.

Reproduced with kind permission from Merusha Naidoo.
  1. Prof Ann Skelton
    June 23, 2015
  2. Nazim Gani_Prof Skelton_ Prof Malaba
    June 23, 2015
  3. Sherian Latif_Prof Skelton
    June 23, 2015


APC hosts Prof John Aitchison


The Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives and the Natal Society Foundation hosted a book launch on Saturday, 25 April 2015 in the Leeb-du Toit Council Chambers, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus.  The book written by Professor John Aitchison is entitled Numbering the Dead: The course and pattern of political violence in the Natal Midlands, 1987 to 1989.  Professor Aitchison was the guest speaker at the book launch and paid tribute to all those who were willing to stand up and expose the reality of the violence that gripped the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands in the late eighties and early nineties.

Professor John Aitchison was born in Durban and then studied at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg where he was active in the National Union of South African Students and in the Liberal Party. In his Honours year in 1965 he was restricted without trial under severe banning orders for five years and then again for another five years from 1971 to 1976. After teaching at the Federal Theological Seminary he joined the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg where for many years he headed the Centre for Adult Education. Later he was head of the School of Education Training and Development. He retired in 2007 and is an Emeritus Professor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He ran an Unrest Monitoring Project in the Centre for Adult Education from 1987 to 1994 and has played a significant role in national adult education policy development as well as in the development of school teacher upgrading programmes. He is known for his strong commitment to education and non-governmental organisation development in the Natal Midlands. He has been active in a number of human rights and rural development non-governmental organisations such as the Association for Rural Advancement (of which he was Director for a time).

Numbering the Dead is a seminal account of the violent civil conflict that broke out around the city of Pietermaritzburg in 1987 and what ensued over the next three years. Aitchison and his colleagues, based at the Centre for Adult Education, documented and dissected the ebb and flow and the changing circumstances of this not-so-low intensity civil war in the region. They collected, computerized, and categorized literally thousands of instances of eyewitness or documentary evidence, and then applied an innovative synthesis of qualitative and quantitative approaches that uncovered the patterns and intimated the underlying causes. This book, mainly covering the period 1987 to 1989, presents a distillation of this monitoring work, conducted under unimaginably difficult and stressful conditions. It was originally done with the simple aim of stopping the killing by telling people in the province, in South Africa and the world what was happening, as accurately and truthfully as possible. 

  1. Numbering the dead
    June 25, 2015
  2. Prof John Aitchison_photo
    June 22, 2015
  3. Prof John Aitchison_book launch
    June 22, 2015


Estelle Liebenberg-Barkhuizen retires from the APC

as Senior Conservation Officer 

Dr Estelle Liebenberg-Barkhuizen, Senior Conservation Officer for the UKZN Special Collections retires at the end of December 2014. Estelle served the APC for 12 years doing archival description, conservation work for UKZN Special Collection, and helping with APC functions.

We at the APC are sad to see Estelle leave, we wish Estelle a long and happy retirement and we are grateful for her continued support and assistance.  Go well, Estelle!


Estelle Liebenberg-Barkhuizen (L) 
and Sherian Latif
Peter Alexander author of Alan Paton: A Biography
Peter Alexander, author of Alan Paton: a Biography 

Peter Alexander dies at the age of 65


South Africa’s pre-eminent literary biographer, Peter Alexander has died in Sydney, Australia at the age of 65.  Alexander was based at the University of New South Wales since 1978.  He is the author of Alan Paton: a Biography published by Oxford University Press in 1994.

 Alexander was born on 24 July 1949 in Grahamstown, where his father was an Anglican priest.  He matriculated from Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg.  After studying literature at the University of Witwatersrand, where his lecturer was Paton’s son Jonathan, and Leeds University, he went to Cambridge, where he met his wife-to-be, Christine. 

It was while researching a thesis for a PhD at Cambridge University on the poet Roy Campbell in 1974, Alexander met Alan Paton, the internationally acclaimed author of Cry, the Beloved Country.

 According to Alan Paton, ‘The amount of effort and concentration required in writing a biography is many times greater than that required for an autobiography’ (Alexander, 395).  A biographer being confined to fact must suppress his imagination, intuition and emotion and confine his creativity to expression and composition. And it requires great skill to turn fact into interesting narrative.  So when a biography succeeds, it is indeed a remarkable piece of work as is Peter F. Alexander’s  Alan Paton: a Biography 

Alexander gives a holistic picture of a human being in Alan Paton: a Biography with strengths and weaknesses who dedicated his life to bringing about transformation in South Africa.  He was born into a racist society and remained ignorant of its ethos and his own conditioning until he became a young adult.  It is still difficult for most people to understand that living in a racist society you become a racist.  It does not matter whether you are black or white, your life is structured by the system in which you live because you abide by its norms and values whether you agree with them or not. Young Paton was fortunate to meet and work with many people who challenged his understanding of the South African situation and by the time he was in his thirties he was actively involved in denouncing its injustices.  His book Cry, the Beloved Country, published in 1948, the year in which the Nationalist Party came into power, brought worldwide focus on racism in South Africa and helped to power the efforts of the liberation movements.

Alexander in his acknowledgements in Alan Paton: a Biography pays tribute to the motivation of the many friends and Paton family members who contributed to the making of this book.  He writes ‘every individual was eager to throw a stone upon the grave of a departed Hero, and thus to share in the pious office of erecting an honourable monument to his [Alan Paton’s] memory’.  Alexander’s greatest debt is to Paton’s widow, Mrs Anne Paton, who not only gave permission for Alexander to see and quote all of the Paton material of which she is the copyright-holder, but repeatedly welcomed him to her home, submitted to days of questioning, allowed Alexander to read the typescript of Mrs Paton’s then-unpublished book Some Sort of a Job: My Life with Alan Paton.

Alexander is survived by his wife Christine and their son Roland.


APC hosts Dr Imtiaz Sooliman

The Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives, Exclusive Books and Bookstorm hosted a book launch for Imtiaz Sooliman and the Gift of the Givers: A Mercy to All on Thursday, 16 October 2014 in the Leeb-du Toit Council Chambers, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus.  The guest speaker was Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of the Gift of the Givers.

The book is written by journalist Shafiq Morton and tells a story of the establishment of South Africa’s only home-grown relief organization, the Gift of the Givers, and its founder.  In 1991, Dr Sooliman, a medical doctor practicing in Pietermaritzburg, visited a Shaikh, a Sufi teacher, in Istanbul, Turkey, and received a message that would dramatically change his life and the lives of countless others – that he would dedicate the rest of his life to helping others in need, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.

As Africa’s biggest relief NGO, Gift of the Givers has a reputation for speedy intervention in local disasters, but it has also conducted over 20 international missions in places such as Bosnia, Palestine, Japan, Haiti, Indonesia, Malawi and Mozambique.  Since 1992, Gift of the Givers has put up hospitals, run clinics, created agricultural schemes, dug wells, built houses, developed and manufactured energy food, renovated fishing boats, offered scholarships and provided shelter, food and psychological succor to millions. It has responded to floods, war, famine, tsunamis, kidnapping and earthquakes.


  1. Dr Sooliman (L) and Nazim Gani
    June 19, 2015
  2. Dr Sooliman_Mrs Sooliman_ Nazim Gani and Gift of the Givers staff
    June 19, 2015
  3. Dr Clint Bruyns and Dr Sooliman
    June 19, 2015
  4. Dr Imtiaz Sooliman
    June 19, 2015
APC hosts Photograph and Film Preservation Workshop

Dr Estelle Liebenberg-Barkhuizen, Senior Conservation Officer at the Alan Paton Centre (APC) presented a photograph and film preservation workshop held at the APC on Friday, 3 October 2014. The workshop centered on the preservation of photographs and film. Estelle began with a short synopsis of the history of photography so that participants could learn about the different chemicals and materials used in the making of photographs and film, including glass plates, and the different types of photographs and film they might have in their archives and how to identify those. The participants looked at the types of damage photographs, film and glass plates can suffer when not treated correctly; and at preservation systems and methods to arrest and prevent damage. The workshop looked at policies for photograph collections and considered aspects of disaster management. The presentation was broken with a practical session in which delegates tested their photographs to try and identify what type of photograph they had brought to the workshop; and at the end of the workshop, Estelle demonstrated on how to repair a torn photograph; how to remove self-adhesive tape from the back of a photograph; how to make their own archival quality photo corners to be used in albums and how to make a four-flap folder. There was also a small exhibition of different types of photographs and film.

The workshop aimed to provide participants with sound understanding of how to implement best practices in the preservation of photographs and film; to identify the range of risks and dangers involved and the best ways to manage this using optimal storage systems and materials, and good handling and display methods. Participants will have a basic understanding of the necessary policies and plans needed to implement suitable preservation strategies.

  1. Estelle demonstrating at the ETHER workshop
    June 24, 2015
  2. Estelle seated (L) with participants_1
    June 23, 2015


Peter Brown Memorial Seminar 2014

“Pursuing your Passion”

By Zelda la Grange

 The Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives (APC) celebrated Heritage month by remembering the legacy of Nelson Mandela.  Heritage month allows organizations which are involved with the preservation of heritage, such as museums and archives, an opportunity to highlight an aspect of heritage, and celebrate it.  The theme for Heritage month in South Africa was “Reclaiming, restoring and celebrating our living heritage.”

The Peter Brown Memorial Seminar pays tribute and honours Peter Brown who was a friend of Alan Paton, a co-leader of the Liberal Party, a founder of the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA) and was very instrumental in the setting up of the Alan Paton Centre.  Peter Brown played an important role in the establishment of the Liberal Party of South Africa (LPSA) in 1953.  In 1958, he became the National Chairman of the LPSA.  In Alan Paton’s autobiography, Journey Continued, Paton describes Brown as a person with a social conscience "about things like justice, equality and the rule of law that was going to cost him dear. Brown was widely respected and one of the longest banned White South Africans during apartheid.

The 2014 Peter Brown Memorial Seminar was presented by Ms Zelda la Grange on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 in the Colin Webb Hall, Pietermaritzburg campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).  This was the 8th presentation of the Peter Brown Memorial Seminar and is held every two years and presented by the APC.  La Grange’s talk was titled: “Pursuing your Passion” which was followed by the launch of her book, Good Morning, Mr Mandela.  She joined the President’s office as a Senior Ministerial typist in 1994 and became head of logistics for President Nelson Mandela.  Working closely with various government departments, she coordinated Mandela’s itinerary, travel arrangements, security and transport, and accompanied him on domestic and international visits when needed.

La Grange said it was an immense honour to be invited to participate in the Heritage celebrations of the APC.  She had very little knowledge of Peter Brown but states that “what is noticeable when one reads about Peter Brown is that many people consider him an unsung hero of the struggle of South Africa.”  Madiba reminded people by saying that the struggle was not fought and won by one person or just the leadership of the movement, but that one should remember, acknowledge and honour unsung heroes like Peter Brown and Alan Paton.  “I know therefore that he is smiling down on me today, having travelled here where Peter Brown and Alan Paton are being remembered as critical figures in our history of liberation and therefore part of the heritage of our diversity”. 

La Grange states that her story or contribution pales in comparison to that of a Peter Brown or Alan Paton.  She added that the wealth of memories and experiences has left her in a once again, privileged position.  She aims to share her story and experiences and hopes to transfer some of the lessons that she had been privileged to learn from Madiba.  Madiba taught La Grange about courage and conviction.  “We have just celebrated women's month and I was reminded that the march to the Union Buildings in 1956 served as a demonstration of courage and conviction by ordinary women who wanted to change the world.  The courage and conviction exhibited by both Peter Brown and Alan Paton is no different”.  Madiba once told La Grange that “If you don't have courage, you are not going to last here for long.”  La Grange explained that as a young Afrikaner girl, she had to find the courage to follow her convictions.  “Courage and conviction are therefore common threads through the lives of many of our struggle heroes which they have taught us about”.  She described having to find courage upon meeting Mandela to realign her convictions as a young, ignorant Afrikaner girl, and said that the courage and conviction which motivated men like Mandela, Paton and Brown should inspire all South Africans. 

Another lesson that La Grange learnt from Madiba is the way you approach a person will determine how that person treats you and do not ever allow the enemy to determine the grounds for battle.  La Grange also stated that Madiba taught her about respect and discipline.  Her experiences and lessons have left her a lasting impression on how much respect Madiba paid to others, even if people did not deserve it.  “Show respect even to those who do not deserve it, not as a reflection of their character but as a reflection of your character.”

La Grange concluded by reminded us that the greatest statesman of our tme belonged to us as a country.  His heritage is our heritage.  “But that is not limited to him becoming the first democratically elected President, or wearing a Springbok jersey.  His story is one of courage and conviction, forgiveness, respect and self-respect.  But to honour that heritage, we need to apply the lessons we have learnt from him.”

  1. Guests at the 2014 Peter Brown Memorial Seminar
    June 12, 2015
  2. Zelda la Grange
    June 12, 2015
  3. Zelda with APC staff
    June 12, 2015
  4. Zelda with Rabia Motala
    June 12, 2015

Fanele Mkhize
Fanelesibonge Mkhize serves internship at Alan Paton Centre 

Fanelesibonge Mkhize is a 3rd year student at Durban University of Technology (M.L. Sultan Campus) in Durban. She is currently studying her National Diploma in Library and Information Studies. Fanelesibonga was sent to the main library on the Pietermaritzburg campus to do her Work Integrated Learning. Fanelesibong started on 23 June 2014 at main library and moved on the following branch libraries, Life Science library, Law library, and finally to the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archive (12-15 August 2014).  Fanelesibonga said she gained a lot of knowledge from the libraries, but she gained a different experience at the Alan Paton Centre (APC). At the APC she learned about preservation of documents and how they are archived. She observed the conservation of documents. She said her experience of being in the library environment made her realize that she is doing the right course of LIS. Fanelesibonge said that staff at the APC made her feel welcome and they were willing to share all there experience with her. Fanelesibonge is a poet she writes and recites her own poetry. Seeing Dr. Alan Paton’s work inspired her to start keeping all her art work and poems documented, because one day it might be recognized as valuable.

This 2014 Mandela Day is unique. It is the first one since Mr Mandela passed away in December 2013. It is the first one without him, our message has to be this: Mr Mandela is gone but his legacy live on. Mr Mandela is gone, but the work he started will continue. Mandela Day is not about symbolic gestures, it is not about “one day of generosity and then back to normal routine”. Instead Mandela Day is a campaign to build a culture of service. It encourages people to make the world a better place for all. Every day should be Mandela Day.

Mr Mandela followed three rules throughout his life: 1. Free yourself 2. Free others and 3. Serve every day. The path people choose to take on their journey should be inspired by the belief that we live to serve every day in everything we do. This would be a fitting tribute to Madiba.
Lead by example and pay tribute to a great man.

Information was sourced from the Nelson Mandela Foundation .


Nadine Gordimer 

Tribute to Nadine Gordimer 1924-2014

The Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives pays tribute to Nadine Gordimer, well-known South African writer, political activist and Nobel prize winner. Gordimer passed away peacefully in her sleep in Johannesburg, at the age of 90. Gordimer began writing at the age of nine with her first short story published at the age of 15. Nadine’s first novel, The Lying Days, based on her life was published in 1953.
Gordimer was a worthy recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature. Nadine received no less than 15 honorary degrees from universities worldwide. Nadine’s most recent writing, Get A Life,was written in memory of her late husband. Gordimer’s legacy will be remembered for her fight against injustice, suppression and the abuse of power. Nadine Gordimer will surely be missed by all who knew her. 

Photograph supplied with kind permission by Joe Alfers.


Durga Bundhoo 
Tribute to Mrs Durga Bundhoo 1921-2014

Durga Bundhoo was born in 1921. She was an incredible woman who loved peace. Durga died on the 10 July 2014 at the age of 93 in Pietermaritzburg. Mrs Bundhoo was a well-known community leader who encouraged Indian mothers to educate their daughters. She was the President of the Plessislaer Arya Stree Samaj for about 50 years, honorary life President of the Aryan Benevolent Society, a member of the National Council of Women for more than 40 years and National Advisor for Asian Affairs for 6 years. Working with the Pietermaritzburg Indian Women’s Association, she was involved in establishing the Indian Girls’ High School in 1935, and being a school teacher herself it meant a lot to her.

Mrs Bundhoo was involved in the placing and unveiling of the Gandhi Statue in Church Street. She was awarded the certificate of Commendation by the city of Pietermaritzburg – Msundusi in 2000. Mrs Bundhoo’s collection can be found at the Alan Paton Centre (PC122).

Dr Nora Buchanan’s farewell tea

Dr Nora Buchanan, Director of Library Services of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) retires at the end of June 2014. Nora has been working in the library for the past 32 years, and served as Director of Library Services since 2006. Nora has been an active supporter and shown a keen interest to the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives (APC). Staff from Pietermaritzburg Campus Library and APC bid farewell to Nora at a tea party held on Friday, 20 June 2014.

  1. Nora Buchanan
    Nora Buchanan farewell_20 June 14
    June 20, 2014
  2. Nora Buchanan and APC staff
    Nora Buchanan and APC staff
    June 20, 2014
Gandhi Corner opened at the Bessie Head Municipal Library

The Senior Librarian at Alan Paton Centre attended the opening of the Gandhi Corner at the Bessie Head Municipal Library on 19 June 2014. The Gandhi Corner was officially opened by Mr Kay Makan, founding member of the Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Memorial Committee, and Councillor Eunice Majola from the Msunduzi Municipality. The opening of the Gandhi Corner was an initiative between the Pietermaritzburg Gandhi Memorial Committee and Msunduzi Municipality. A donation of 100 volumes of the complete works of Gandhi and 10 copies of South African Gandhi (donated by the late Professor Fatima Meer) is housed at the Bessie Head Municipal Library.

  1. Gandhi Corner
    June 14, 2016
  2. Pmb Gandhi Memorial Committee members
    June 14, 2016
Reflections on Mandela and Gandhi presented during Alan Paton Lecture 2014

Mandela and Gandhi: Reading Conversations with Myself and Experiments with Truth, was the title of the 21st Alan Paton Lecture presented by Professor Sarah Nuttall in the Colin Webb Hall on the Pietermaritzburg Campus.

Nuttall, Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (WiSER) at Wits University, began her reflections on Mandela and Gandhi by remembering Alan Paton. She referred to Paton’s testimony during the 1964 Treason Trial saying he was the only witness called in mitigation before sentencing in a trial in which the judge was expected by many, including Nelson Mandela, to hand down the death sentence. 

According to Nuttall, Paton put forward a clear proposition: that ‘the African people in South Africa had the same hopes and aspirations as people of any other race; that is, to live a decent life’. 

The central part of her lecture described and analysed two texts. The first was Nelson Mandela: Conversations with Myself, which is a discussion of a text published in 2010 by Mandela, and edited and compiled by Verne Harris and researchers at the Mandela Centre for Memory and Dialogue. The second text was Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth.

Nuttall compared Mandela’s and Gandhi’s political vision, their processes of personal transfiguration, and their relationship to their own bodies, to the world of the senses and to self-discipline, self-writing, death and loss, abnegation and memory, and to the dreamworlds of the long 20th century.

She said: ‘There is much in his (Mandela’s) life and thinking that invites conversation in relation to the projects of inner liberation and human emancipation undertaken by figures like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Ang San Suu Kyi, and which has hardly yet been properly studied. The fact that Mandela may have been one of the rare South African political leaders versed in the practice of deep introspection has been altogether neglected.’ 

Nuttall said Gandhi’s autobiography involved the practical applications of Gandhi’s principles, his experiments with non-violence, celibacy and other principles of conduct he increasingly believed in. ‘Ghandi wrote: “The truth is not only truthfulness in word, but truthfulness in thought also, and not only the relative Truth of our conception but the Absolute Truth, the Eternal Principle that IS God”.
‘Gandhi like Mandela, said he was “prepared to sacrifice the things dearest to me in pursuit of this quest. Even if the sacrifice demanded be my very life, I hope I may be prepared to give it”.’ 

Nuttall said Mandela and Gandhi, two of the 20th century’s greatest men, were similar and different in ways that history and scholarship had barely begun to unravel. She concluded by saying there is much in Gandhi’s life and politics that is in conversation with Mandela’s.

Born in South Africa and educated at the former University of Natal and the University of Cape Town, Nuttall won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to read for a D.Phil at Oxford University. A literary scholar by training, her varied research interests and prolific publication record have established her as a leading cultural commentator and critic as well as one of the leading scholars of her generation. She has edited and written path-breaking books and is a member of the editorial boards for several journals.

Oral History Collections Archived at UKZN

UKZN’s Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives has become home to two significant oral history collections. 
“Memories of AIDS” features interviews with community workers and support group members involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal. The second collection includes interviews with residents from Mpophemeni near Howick in KZN. This collection highlights experiences related to apartheid, political violence and reconstruction.

Professor Shawn Utsey from Virginia Commonwealth University introduced the collection to the University community and explained the importance of remembering the past.

The Alan Paton Centre’s Nazim Gani delivered the welcome address. Gani described the significance of the collection and the importance of a rich tradition of oral history. Oral History is significant in that interviews are conducted with people who participated in or observed past events and whose memories and perceptions of these are to be preserved as an aural record for future generations. The two oral history collections will be accessible to all and the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives aims to make this information accessible in order to be a resource of excellence for research in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands region.

These additions to the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives collection were made possible by a collaboration between Sinomlando, a centre for oral history and memory work in Africa; the Alan Paton Centre and Zulu Mpophemeni Tourism Experience (ZMTE). In the Zulu language sinomlando means: “We have a history”.

Students, staff and members of the public are able to view the collections at the Alan Paton Centre. Contact the Alan Paton Centre for more information (033 260 5926), e-mail: gani@ukzn.ac.za or visit the website: http://paton.ukzn.ac.za/Home.aspx

  1. Philani Dlamini
    Philani Dlamini
    June 06, 2014
  2. Prof Donal McCracken
    Prof Donal McCracken
    June 06, 2014
  3. Mrs Nokhaya Makiwane
    Mrs Nokhaya Makiwane
    June 06, 2014
  4. Prof Shawn Utsey
    Prof Shawn Utsey
    June 06, 2014
  5. Prof Phillipe Denis
    Prof Phillipe Denis_2
    June 06, 2014
  6. Staff from APC, Sinomlando and ZMTE
    Staff from APC, Sinomlando and ZMTE
    May 29, 2014


Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives celebrates 25th anniversary

The Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives (APC) on the Pietermaritzburg campus celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The APC was officially opened on 25 April 1989 by the then University of Natal Vice-Principal, Professor Colin Webb.

In his address, Webb summed up the aims of the Centre saying: ‘The intention is to build up around the core donation from Mrs Anne Paton a study and research centre devoted to the literature and politics of intergroup conciliation – two of the deepest concerns of Alan Paton’s life.  The APC is a facility for the living, an instrument for carrying forward the struggle for improved human relations that filled so much of Paton’s essentially human life.’

  1. Mary Gardner, Jewel Koopman and Estelle
    Cutting of cake
    June 04, 2014
  2. Mary Gardner, Jewel Koopman and Estelle
    Cutting of 25th annivesary celebration cake
    June 04, 2014
  3. Alan Paton Centre 25th Anniversary celebrations
    Alan Paton Centre 25th Anniversary celebrations
    May 05, 2014
Freedom Flame burns bright on Pietermaritzburg campus

The 20 Years of Freedom Flame, the major symbol of the celebrations of two years of demoracy and freedom in South Africa, was recently on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

Earlier, the celebrations were launched by a release of doves by KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu, members of the Cabinet, district mayors and leaders of the various communities as a symbol of peace at the Mandela Capture Site in Howick.

The 20 Years of Freedom Flame is major symbol of the democracy celebrations which will pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and all fallen heroes and heroines who were actively engaged in the struggle against oppression. 

The Flame will cross the 11 districts of KZN, ‘highlighting the light over darkness that has prevailed in KZN in the past 20 years’.

On the Pietermaritzburg campus it was taken to the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives (APC) where Head and Senior Librarian, Mr Nazim Gani, and Senior Conservation Officer, Dr Estelle Liebenberg-Barkhuizen, welcomed the delegation which included the KZN Finance MEC, Ina Cronje, Msunduzi Municipality mayor, Mr Chris Ndlela, Speaker Mr Baboo Baijoo, the Umgungundlovu District Municipality mayor, Mr Yusup Bhamjee, and other district mayors and officials. 

The delegation walked with the Freedom Flame from the University entrance in Milner Road to the APC. 

Cronje said renowned author and political activist Alan Paton had played a significant role towards intergroup conciliation while Gani said the aim of the APC was to build a study and research centre devoted to the literature and politics of intergroup conciliation – two of the deepest concerns of Alan Paton’s life.

  1. Freedom Flame lit at APC
    Freedom Flame at APC
    June 06, 2014
  2. Gani (L) and Estelle (R) with Freedom Flame
    Gani and Estelle with Freedom Flame
    June 06, 2014
  3. APC staff member with Municipality dignitaries
    APC staff member with Municipality dignitaries
    May 29, 2014


Alan Paton Centre receives award

The inaugural Mayoral Tourism Awards 2013 was held on Friday, 27 September 2013 at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall. The Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives (APC) received an Award of Excellence in the Special Recognition category. The Mayoral Tourism Awards have been introduced to identify and recognize men and women and organizations that have strived and continued to make City of Choice a destination of choice. The APC was acknowledged for its contribution to tourism in Pietermaritzburg and was recognized for its role on the Alan Paton Literary Tour. The award is viewed as a means to celebrate recipients and to encourage high standard of practice for products and services in the tourism industry within the City of Pietermaritzburg.

  1. Nazim Gani receiving the award for excellence
    June 24, 2015
  2. Award of Excellence 2013
    Award of excellence staff
    October 10, 2013


Visit from Christian Vandersee

Christian Vandersee, Director of Basker Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) in Basel Switzerland visited the Alan Paton Centre on the 18 September 2013. The purpose of his visit was more fact finding and to do a comparative study of how the Alan Paton Centre functioned and to possibly facilitate a networking relationship between BAB and the Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives.

A little background information about the BAB:

The Basler Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) in Switzerland has been in existence since 1971 as a private specialist library and archive on southern Africa. It has an international reputation for its extensive holdings on Namibia. In 1994, the BAB was incorporated into the non-profit Carl Schlettwein Foundation. The BAB networks with institutions and researchers all over the world and is an associate member of the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel and the Swiss African Society.The BAB supports and promotes the documentation and accessibility of library and archive holdings and engages in research on Namibia and southern Africa. The BAB also has its own publishing house and runs an antiquarian bookshop.

  1. Christian Vandersee 3
    Christian Vandersee 3
    October 23, 2013
  2. Christian Vandersee 2
    Christian Vandersee 2
    October 23, 2013
  3. Christian Vandersee 1
    Christian Vandersee 1
    October 23, 2013

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