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Harry Gwala - Centenary 

HARRY GWALA  (1920-1995)

Centenary memories of the 'Lion of the Midlands'

Harry Temba Gwala was known as “Ibhubesi, the Lion of Pietermaritzburg”.  He was born in New Hanover on 30 July 1920, to a Lutheran family.  He became a very influential teacher at Slangspruit in Edendale.  He became politically active while teaching in Pietermaritzburg, and joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1942.  One of his pupils was Moses Mabhida, who became general secretary of the SACP from 1978-86.

In the early 1940s, the SACP sent Gwala to a cadre school in Johannesburg, where he learnt about trade unionism, liberation theory, Marxist-Leninism and public speaking.  In 1944, Gwala left teaching and became a trade union organiser, establishing unions for textile, chemical, municipal and rubber workers in Howick.

Gwala joined the ANC in 1944, and opposed the Group Areas Bill after the Nationalist Government came into power in 1948.  He was listed as a communist in 1950, and banned for two, and then another three, years.  He was detained in the 1960 State of Emergency, and again in 1963.

From 1964-1972 he was sent to Robben Island as punishment for recruiting members for Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC.  His wife, Elda, died while he was there.  He was again sent to Robben Island from 1976-1988, under the Terrorism Act.  There he contracted an incurable motor-neuron disease, which caused the paralysis of both his arms.

Harry Gwala was an electrifying speaker, who inspired thousands.  On Robben Island he was influential in politicising comrades in prison, where he was known as “the principal of the school of political education”.  He brought Jacob Zuma, who had no education, to Std. 8 level.

Gwala was elected as the first chairperson of the ANC in Natal after its unbanning in 1990.  In 1991, he was elected to the ANC National Executive Committee and the SACP Central Committee.  He became ANC Chief Whip in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in 1994.

In recognition of Gwala’s outstanding role in the Struggle, he was awarded the ANC’s highest honour, the Isitwalandwe-Seaparankoe Award.

At Gwala’s funeral in 1995, President Nelson Mandela said that for Gwala, “the mission of liberation knew no obstacles”. Mandela added “yet some contributions stand out as monuments, precisely because the individuals responsible do not fear to differ; they do not wilt at the slightest sign of divergence. Mphephethwa (clan name) was such a personality,” said Mandela.

Celebrating Freedom Day, 27 April 2020

Freedom day is much more than just another public holiday.  It is an important day to commemorate the country’s history and the dawn of democracy.

It is significant because it marks the end of over three hundred years of colonialism, segregation and white minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government led by Nelson Mandela and a new state subject to a new constitution.

10 facts about Freedom Day

1. The day celebrates freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections (democratic elections) held on that day in 1994.

2. Some groups and social movements celebrate a version of Freedom Day called UnFreedom Day in which they mourn the unfreedom (struggles) still experienced by the poor.

3. The elections were the first non-racial national elections where everyone of voting age of over 18 from any race group was allowed to vote.

4. Of South Africa’s 22, 7 million eligible voters, 19.7 million voted in the 1994 national election.

5. The election was won by the ANC with 62.65 % of the vote. The National Party (NP) received 20.39 %, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) 10.54 %, Freedom Front (FF) 2.2 %, Democratic Party (DP) 1.7 %, Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) 1.2 % and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) 0.5 %.

6.  Since political freedom in 1994 South Africans have strove to correct the wrongs of the past (injustices).

7. Nelson Mandela is considered the father of Modern South Africa for the instrumental role that he played in establishing a democracy and ending the oppressive rule of the white minority.

8. Freedom Day was first celebrated in 1995 and has since been celebrated annually on 27 April in memory of the day that changed the nation.

9. The South African government says Freedom Day is significant because it “marks the end of over three hundred years of colonialism, segregation and white minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government led by Nelson Mandela and a new state subject to a new constitution.”

10. For many South Africans Freedom Day brings back memories of the euphoria of 1994, when black, Indian and mixed race voters stood in long meandering lines to cast their first ballots.


Sanele Hlatshwayo

Sanele Hlatshwayo an UKZN Honour’s student came to Alan Paton Centre to do his Intern Training Service

Sanele Hlatshwayo a honour’s student in Library and Information Management came to the Alan Paton Centre to his intern training service, from 23-24 July 2019. Sanele says he was shown the process on how the documents are preserved, which he never had any idea on how it’s done. He said that the staff gave him an opportunity to practically do the digitization and he was impressed on the steps that is taken to digitize a document. 

Mxolisi Mchunu

Mxolisi Mchunu a DUT student came to Alan Paton Centre to do his Integrated Work Experience

Mxolisi Mchunu a final year DUT Library Science student came to the Alan Paton Centre on 23 -24 July 2019, to do his integrated work experience. Mxolisi was very impressed with the collection that was housed at the Centre, and the process of scanning documents to be digitized and uploaded on to DISA. Mxolisi said at least people in other countries can access the documents which will be very helpful for their research. Mxolisi said he  really enjoyed working at the Alan Paton Centre for the two days.

Students from Central Michigan University visits the
Alan Paton Centre

The Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives (APC) welcomed 11 students from the Central Michigan University (CMU), United Sates of America on 4 June 2019. The students were accompanied by Prof. Maureen Eke from the English Department at CMU. The visit was an interdisciplinary study abroad course on South Africa through the lenses of literature, history and culture.

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  • June 12, 2015
Third Archives Annual Lecture Focuses on Making Archives Visible and Accessible

UKZN Special Collections and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture’s KwaZulu-Natal Archives and Records Service hosted the Third Archives Annual Lecture at the Colin Webb Hall on the Pietermaritzburg campus on 10 May 2019.

The lecture was attended by 80 guests from a wide range of institutions; including governmental and municipal archives and records management offices, university centres and companies such as Microsoft.

In her welcome address, Director of Library Services at UKZN, Ms Joyce Myeza, spoke of the various collections in the UKZN’s Special Collections, including the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives. “UKZN Special Collections is the custodian of information and is key to the achievement of research ambitions, as they serve as research spaces for postgraduate, local and international researchers on various aspects of African and indigenous knowledge”. said Myeza.

The lecture was delivered by Professor Patrick Ngulube from the Department of Interdisciplinary Research and Postgraduate Studies at UNISA. Ngulube is also an Honorary Professor at UKZN. He focused on the application of soft power theory to enhance the visibility and accessibility of public archives in a resource-constrained environment.

He described research conducted by UNISA and the National Research Foundation to develop a national strategy on public programming. Ngulube said access to and usage of archival holdings is important as it enhances an institution’s image, promotes research and education, improves service delivery, fosters accountability and transparency, and promotes justice.

He highlighted the constrains confronting public archives, including insufficient funding; a lack of infrastructure; information backlogs; and a lack of trained staff. He added that in such a context, four constructs of the concept of soft power, namely; culture, leadership, education as well as innovation, can be activated to enhance the visibility of and access to public archive repositories.

He went on to outline the legislation governing archives and records management; cultural strategies adopted to improve the image of archives; the leadership qualities at all levels to ensure the visibility of archives repositories; educational programmes as interactive tools for public engagement; and the adoption of social media as an innovative tool to promote archives.

“Archives are for use. They are created by the people, for the use of the people, so if they are not used, they become a white elephant,” he said, adding, “Soft power could provide deeper insight into and better understanding of how to develop inexpensive visibility programmes.”

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  • June 12, 2015

Alan Paton Lecture 
Reflects on Selfless Leaders

The 26th Alan Paton Lecture was presented by Dr Sibongiseni Mkhize and Professor Jill E Kelly at the Colin Webb Hall on the Pietermaritzburg campus on 2 May. Mkhize’s lecture was titled: Service, Sacrifice and Social Justice on the road to the new South Africa, while Kelly’s topic was Chief by the People: Inkosi Mhlabunzima Maphumulo and the Search for Security during the Transition to Democracy in South Africa. Both focused on struggle stalwarts’ vision of social justice. 

The Lecture is hosted annually by UKZN’s Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives to commemorate Paton's life, and to discuss the issues to which he devoted so much of his time. Previous lectures have covered topics such as liberalism; the struggle against apartheid; prison reform for juvenile offenders; the South African political situation; human rights; and literary, educational and environmental issues.

Mkhize, who is the CEO of the South African State Theatre and the former CEO of the Robben Island Museum, traced the 70-year political career of H Selby Msimang, a founding member of the African National Congress (ANC). ‘He was willing to work for others without expecting anything in return. As a nation, we can benefit from asking how far we are in realising such ideals,’ Mkhize said. He posed the question of whether service, sacrifice and social justice have been incorporated into the fundamental values of the new South Africa, particularly in relation to people, politics and governance. Mkhize said that he was honoured to present the Alan Paton Lecture as “‘I am a child of UKZN, having studied here from 1992-1997.’

Kelly is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Southern Methodist University. She traced Inkosi Maphumulo’s journey from rebel chief to peace chief, to first president of the United Democratic Front-aligned Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa. Kelly noted that ‘his vision of traditional authority is important today with the public having conversations about the state of traditional authority and land.’ She added that Inkosi Maphumulo used his authority as a traditional leader to serve the common good. Kelly said that it was an honour to present the lecture as she has conducted extensive research at the Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives.

The lectures were followed by the launch of Kelly’s, new book, To swim with Crocodiles: Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa, 1800-1996, published by the UKZN Press. It offers a fresh perspective on the history of rural politics in South Africa from the rise of the Zulu Kingdom to the civil war at the dawn of democracy in KwaZulu-Natal. 

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  • June 12, 2015

Launch of the Nola and Nick Steele Archival Collection 

The Nola and Nick Steele Archival Collection was launched by UKZN Special Collections and the Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives (APC), in partnership with the Steele family and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on 25th April. The guest of honour at the function at the Leeb-du Toit Council Chambers on the Pietermaritzburg campus was Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a longstanding personal friend of the Steele family. 

Speaking at the launch, APC Senior Librarian, Mr Nazim Gani said that 25 April marked the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Centre. Former Principal of the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, Professor Colin Webb said that ‘the aim of the APC 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.’

Nola and Nick Steele’s collection, which was donated by their sons, is a combination of personal and work related documentation, diaries, artwork, letters, reports, and minutes of meetings encompassing the period 1949-2008. It sheds light on the history of nature conservation in Natal and Zululand, now KwaZulu-Natal, the many dilemmas that have arisen over the years and the various roles this dedicated couple played. 

Mr Peter Rutsch added his collection to the Steele material. It relates to the Association for Rural Advancement’s bid to protect the rights of local communities around Maputaland, Tembe and Ndumo Game Reserve. Rutch worked for the Legal Resources Centre in Durban and interacted, often representing opposite sides, with Nick Steele. He is still active as a lawyer concerned with nature conservation.

Associate Professor at the Department of Organization Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and at the African Studies Centre Leiden, Professor Harry Wels said, ‘It is my honour and privilege to say a few words at the launch of the Nola and Nick Steele Collection. I worked with both of them extensively over the last 20 years, with Nola when she was still with us and with Nick through the legacy of his work, his books and diaries and other personal papers.’ He added, ‘Nick and Nola resisted and stood firm for the principles of humanity that apartheid forbade by law and enforced by intimidation.’ 

Professor Ida Sabelis, Associate Professor at the Department of Organization Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, observed that, ‘the thought of including the voices of women, of including their perspective in the history of nature conservation was the beginning of the venture, of which the archive presentation is one milestone among many more to come.’ She added: ‘in the same way that Nola and I shared an interest in telling the women’s side of the conservation saga, this archive may serve to take yet another step: to ultimately also include the voices of the Zulu game guards and their wives and children, who shared the successes and the hardship of nature conservation in KwaZulu-Natal. That is our long-term wish, which always motivated the building of this archive.’

Ms Rosa Deen archived the collection as part of a project of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. ‘By making it accessible to researchers and the public, it is my hope that it will open the way to new projects we cannot even imagine yet on the history of conservation in KwaZulu-Natal,’ she said.

In his closing remarks, Buthelezi said: ‘at the height of apartheid, a 25-year-old white game ranger came to my home at KwaPhindangene and spoke with great passion about conservation and the need to set aside land for game reserves. It is essential that we protect this accumulated knowledge that not only honours the Steeles for their work, but gives us invaluable insight into the history of nature conservation in KwaZulu-Natal, at a time of great political turmoil.’

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  • June 12, 2015



Sherian Latif receives15 years long service award

Sherian Latif, an Assistant Library Officer at the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives has received the 15 years long service award at UKZN for her dedicated service to the university.
Sherian started her career in the library environment in 1982 shortly after completing matric. Her first job was with CNA Library Services where she worked there for 7 years. The company was sold to Logans Bookshop and the Library Service then moved to Durban. Sherian applied for a Library Assistant job at the Provincial Library Services and was offered a position in the Serials Department. While being at Library Services she gained valuable experience in other departments like Cataloging, Acquisitions and in the Audio Visual. She worked at Provincial Library Services for 15 years. 
Sherian saw an advert in the Natal Witness for a position as Library Assistant in the Acquisitions Department at the former University of Natal Library, Pietermaritzburg Campus. She applied for the position and was successful. Sherian started at the Library on 1 October 2003. She loves working with new books and interacting with overseas suppliers. In 2012, the Acquisitions department from Pietermaritzburg moved to the EG Malherbe Library at Howard College, Durban and she travelled for 2 years. In 2014, the Library was re-structured and staff had to reapply for jobs. Sherian decided that she wanted to work in Pietermaritzburg and applied for a position at the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives (APC). Her application was successful and Sherian started at the APC on 1 April 2014. It has been very different from the Acquisition department but she has learnt many different aspects about the Archives that she never knew about. Sherian enjoys working with Archival material and meeting many local and overseas researchers.


Father Paddy Kearney (right) during a visit to the APC 2017

Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives (APC) pays tribute to social justice legend and struggle veteran
Father Paddy Kearney, a social justice legend and struggle veteran passed away on 23 November 2018. He was born in Pietermaritzburg and is the founder of the Diakonia Council of Churches, and the chairperson of the Denis Hurley Centre. He was awarded a honorary doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Kearney is the author of Guardian of the Light, a biography of Archbishop Denis Hurley. On the occasion of Archbishop Hurley’s 70th birthday, Alan Paton referred to the Archbishop as the “guardian of the light that warns of dangers and saves us from destruction”
Kearney contributed greatly to the struggle for liberation and is described by Minister Zweli Mkhize as a “fearless fighter for peace, tolerance and democracy”.
Kearney was responsible for interviewing Archbishop Hurley as part of the Alan Paton Centre’s Oral History Project. Kearney said that he knew the Archbishop was a “fascinating person to interview whose contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle he had long admired”.
The APC salutes and admires the contribution of Paddy Kearney for his fight against social ills (HIV/ADIS. Abuse against women and domestic violence.

Rest in peace, Father Paddy Kearney.


Exhibition celebrating Women’s Month August 2018

The Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Special Collections celebrated National Women’s Month 2018 in August by hosting an exhibition and inviting visitors to view the collections on Women held in the Centre.

The phrase 'wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo' (You Strike the Women, You Strike a Rock) has come to represent the courage and strength of South African women. Globally, women continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement. Although we have made great strides and have much to celebrate in the world we live in today, we still have a long way to go in ensuring that women’s rights within various spheres are duly reflected within our society at both local and international levels.

Some of the collections held at the Centre includes the Black Sash Collection and roles played by individuals in the struggle during Apartheid in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, such as Daphne Tshabalala, Marie Dyer, Durga Bundhoo and Else Schreiner.


Intimate Moments with Nelson Mandela exhibition celebrating Madiba’s
 100th birthday
The Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives of the University of KwaZulu – Natal Special Collections celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday in the month of July. A photographic exhibition of Nelson Mandela was displayed in the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives. The exhibition is called Intimate Moments with Nelson Mandela. The exhibition was created by The Nelson Mandela Foundation and featured the work of six South African photographers. It brings together text and image – intimate portraits of Mandela and words spoken by him. The photographic exhibition features images of Madiba, some of which have never been seen in public.
The exhibition was first curated in 2008 to mark Madiba’s 90th birthday and was donated to the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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  • June 12, 2015


Verna Lessing & Joicelyn Leslie-Smith

 Verna Lessing visits the Alan Paton Centre and donates her late husband’s political cartoons
Verna Lessing visited the Alan Paton Centre on 21 September 2018, she is donating her late husband’s political cartoons to the APC. Paul Lessing was a cartoonist for The Mercury.


Teddy Nxumelo

Teddy Nxumelo a DUT intern at the Alan Paton Centre
Teddy Nxumalo a Durban University of Technology student studying Library and Information studies level 3 National Diploma came to the Alan Paton Centre from 13-15 August 2018 to do his intern training service. Teddy has a passion to help people and he chose this field as it allows him to help many at once. He would like to be based where he could get challenged, and somewhere with information that needs to be used. 


Ncamisile Jiyane

Ncamisile Jiyane a DUT intern came to the Alan Paton Centre to do her integrated work experience 
Ncamisile Jiyane is a student at the Durban University of Technology studying Library & Information studies National Diploma came to the Alan Paton Centre on 13-15 August 2018 to do her integrated work experience. She is pleased that she was given the opportunity to get her integrated work experience at UKZN library. Ncamisile has a love for history and books which lead her to study towards a Library Diploma. She is pleased that the UKZN library has given her experience in all their specialized libraries. She says training at the Alan Paton Centre has convinced her to follow a path in the archives. 
‘Imagining the measure of “enough”:
opening a debate from below’

25th Alan Paton Lecture 2018 
presented by Professor Gerhard (Gerry) Maré

The 25th Alan Paton Lecture 2018 was presented by Professor Gerhard (Gerry) Maré. The lecture was presented in the Colin Webb Hall on the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Pietermaritzburg Campus on 10 May 2018. The lecture was titled: ‘Imagining the measure of “enough”: opening a debate from below”. In his lecture, Professor Maré argues for a ‘freedom charter of enough’. 

Alan Paton’s politics and Professor Maré’s took separate routes in the eighties. Professor Maré’s was one of opposing the ethnic, and class politics of Mangosuthu Buthlezi and his supporters in Inkatha in the wider politics of the country; and Paton’s aligned with what Buthelezi represented, in South Africa and internationally, a gradualist, capitalist approach to social change. As political theory, Professor Maré argues that liberalism is “most productively approached through the ‘ambiguous legacy’ description which was argued for by Steven Friedman in 2014, where the value lies in that ‘care for our fellow citizens’, is so often absent from political policy. 

Professor Maré is his lecture invited the guests to join him ‘on a brief journey, one that has thrown him into yet another confrontation within this wonderful and disastrous country we live in, located in a world that humans are destroying at a phenomenal and, by most measures, unstoppable rate’. Professor Maré’s focus is on the immediate reality of local and global inequality. 

He argues that there are multiple obstacles to tackling inequality, and environmental change – they relate to the responsibilities of an inclusive citizenship. Professor Maré states that firstly, ‘modern capitalism is driven by production for individualised consumption, and not for human need’, and secondly, ‘our embedded ways of thinking is shaped by those in power’. In his lecture, Professor Maré mentions that ‘inequality and climate change have become unexamined ways of living: inequality is there and sets desirable goals for those with power while those at the bottom live with protest against poverty and its immediate consequences’. 

In conclusion, Professor Maré argues that ‘it is only through others that we find our individuality, and it is only through others that we come to appreciate the meaning of values and the value of meaning. He claims that ‘our responsibility to this amazing planet is to reject the meanings that the powerful create for us’. Professor Maré says ‘I do not have answers to the world in which I am lost – except that answers lie in facing the world in its complexity, striving towards understanding, establishing some form of moral compass, also enjoying that state of curiosity without doing harm. 

Maré is professor emeritus at UKZN. He taught at the University of Natal Durban and UKZN from 1984 until 2012, where he chaired sociology, and was director of the Centres for Industrial and Labour Studies and later of Critical Research on Race and Identity. He has published books on forced removals, ethnic political mobilisation, and race and racialism – the most recent being Declassified: moving beyond the dead end of race in South Africa. His extensive collections of documents and materials on the topics of his primary research have been lodged at the archives of the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives since its founding. He is currently a fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advance Study.

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  • June 12, 2015


Dr. Vanessa Nobel & Master Students

 UKZN History lecturer Dr. Vanessa Noble met with her PMB Masters Students at the Alan Paton Centre
A Durban based lecturer Dr. Vanessa Noble from the History Department met with her Pietermaritzburg Master’s Students Nontobeko Ngubane and Thabile Nawe on the 4 April 2018, at the Alan Paton Centre to discuss their progress on their Masters research.
Archbishop Denis Hurley Legacy Tour
The Denis Hurley Centre held the Denis Hurley Legacy Tour on Saturday, 5 August 2017 in the Midlands, Pietermaritzburg, where the late cardinal began his career in the church. Denis Hurley was the former superior at the Saint Joseph’s Scholastice, which was based in Prestbury at the time. He was among the first church leaders to denounce Apartheid, condemning the policy as an affront to human dignity. Pilgrimages from Durban and Pietermaritzburg visited areas that have links to Hurley and the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives (APC) hosted the pilgrims at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Alan Paton, renowned author of Cry, the Beloved Country on the occasion of Archbishop Denis Hurley’s 70th birthday said “Denis Hurley’s father was a lighthouse keeper, the guardian of the light that warns the sailors of dangers and guided them away from destruction. Our Archbishop has been doing this work of warning and guiding for the greater part of his life and he had done it with great faithfulness”.
Nazim Gani, Senior Librarian at the (APC), said “Archbishop Hurley and Paton are one of our greatest South Africans. The similarity of their stature are their integrity, fearlessness, gentleness and spirit of their magnanimity”.
A series of 15 interviews was conducted with Archbishop Hurley and Paddy Kearney as part of the APC Oral History Project, “Recording the anti-apartheid struggle in KZN”. These interviews tells the life of Archbishop Hurley and the role which he has played in KZN over the last fifty years.
Archbishop Hurley helped to find PACSA, the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Awareness, and was the Chancellor of the former University of Natal from 1993-1998.

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  • June 12, 2015
 Limitations on Liberalism: A Tale of Three Schreiners

24th Alan Paton Lecture 2017

Limitations on Liberalism: A Tale of Three Schreiners, was the title of the 24th Alan Paton Lecture presented by respected author and researcher Dr Graham Dominy on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg Campus.
The Lecture, an annual event organised by the Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives (APC) to celebrate Paton’s literary and political legacy, is a platform to discuss topics he was most involved in during his lifetime. These topics include liberalism, the struggle against apartheid, prison reform for juvenile offenders, the South African political situation as well as literary, educational, human rights, and environmental issues.
In his lecture, Dominy described liberalism in South Africa, its strengths, its weaknesses and its limitations. He did this by examining specific aspects of the careers of three members of the Schreiner family who played a significant role in the evolution of South African liberalism, its defence against apartheid assaults, and eventually its role in setting foundations for its resurrection in the new South Africa.
The three Schreiners are – WP Schreiner, OD Schreiner and GDL Schreiner, (grandfather, father and son). Dominy said ‘for over three generations, the Schreiner family fought both strands of liberalism: structural and human’. 
William Philip (WP) Schreiner (1857-1919), was the son of a German missionary, Gottlob Schreiner and his English wife, Rebecca Lyndall. There were many siblings, the most prominent of whom was his sister, novelist Olive Schreiner, who wrote The Story of an African Farm. 
Oliver Deneys (OD) Schreiner (1890-1980) was the son of WP Schreiner and witnessed his father’s political progress to liberalism. OD Schreiner was described by Ellison Kahn as ‘the greatest Chief Justice that South Africa never had’. Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, of the Constitutional Court, when delivering the annual Oliver Schreiner Memorial Lecture in 2008, said he was fascinated by ‘the steadfast stance that Oliver Schreiner took in the Trilogy Cases that gave rise to the constitutional crisis in the mid-1950s’. 
George Deneys Lyndall (GDL) Schreiner (1923-2008) was the second son and youngest child of OD Schreiner. He was born in Johannesburg in 1923 and matriculated at the age of 15. In 1952, he completed a PhD in Organic Chemistry and moved with his wife Else and two sons to the United States where he took up a visiting professorship at the Pennsylvania State College. 
He returned to South Africa in 1953 and was one of the founding members of the Liberal Party of South Africa. The public faces of the Liberal Party were parliamentarians such as Margaret Ballinger and Edgar Brookes and, of course Alan Paton himself. 
According to Dominy, the party was resolutely opposed to apartheid, but faced the same dilemma that the Progressive Party was to face a little later: to stand completely on principle for what was still called one-man-one-vote and risk irrelevance; or to compromise in the hope of attracting wavering white voters.
Deneys Schreiner took up a post as professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the then University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg (UNP) in 1959 and almost immediately began his involvement with local liberal politics. He became Vice-Principal of UNP in 1976 and began organising an academic conference on Constitutional Models and Constitutional Change in South Africa.
Dominy concluded his lecture by saying that ‘from the 1890s to the 1990s the Schreiners exercised a liberal influence on South Africa.
‘We do need to look at the fact that one of the limitations on their liberalism was the elitism inherent in the philosophy. Wonderful though the liberal values in our constitution may be, we need to defend them. The limitation of the constitution is that it does not live on paper, it needs active citizen engagement to defend it. We have the example of three generations of Schreiners and, indeed, the current generation to inspire us.’
• Dr Graham Dominy started his career as an Archivist at the Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository, completing his MA at the University in Cork, Ireland, and his PhD at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. In 2001 he was appointed National Archivist of South Africa taking on project oversight responsibility for the SA-Mali Project: Timbuktu Manuscripts. He also carried out a survey of archives buildings both here and various other countries. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Helen Suzman Foundation, a Research Fellow in the History Department of UNISA and an Honorary Research Associate at the Public Affairs Research Institute. He is also a member of the Human Rights Working Group of the International Council for Archives. His book, Last Outpost on the Zulu Frontiers: Fort Napier and the British Imperial Garrison was published by University of Illinois Press in 2016. He has also edited the learned journal of the Natal Society, Natalia, and is author of more than 50 academic and professional papers and articles. Currently he is writing a biography of Deneys Schreiner, former Vice Principal of the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

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  • 2015/06/12 02:42:14 PM

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  • June 12, 2015
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”.

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  • June 12, 2015


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.

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 2015


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.

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 2015


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.

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 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. 

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 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.


All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 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.

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 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.”

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • 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.

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 2015
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.

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 2015
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

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 2015


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.

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 2015


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.

All photos

Zelda la Grange

  • June 12, 2015


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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