Wednesday, November 22, 2017

KRISH MACKERDHUJ - A STRUGGLE HERO WHO STOOD UP AGAINST RACISM IN SPORT AND SOCIETY IN GENERAL IN SOUTH AFRICA

BY SUBRY GOVENDER INTRO: At a time when South Africans are enjoying the full benefits of international sport, it’s appropriate to recall the struggles of our sporting administrators who made this possible. Veteran journalist - Subry Govender – contends in our ongoing series on Struggle Heroes and Heroines that the role played by non-racial sports administrators was a vital element in the broader struggles for the creation of a non-racial and democratic South Africa. One of the leaders was Krish Mackerdhuj, the former president of the non-racial South African Cricket Board, who passed on, on May 26 2004.
It was a period in the 1980s when white cricket at that time was feeling the full impact of the isolation of South African sport that Krish Mackerdhuj, who was president of the non-racial South African Cricket Board(SACB), came to the fore. He and his fellow anti-apartheid sports administrators were taken aback by moves by a former captain of the whites-only national cricket team, Ali Bacher, to lure the former West Indian cricket great, Clive Lloyd, to visit South Africa to intervene between white and non-racial cricket administrators. Bacher was the CEO of white cricket at this time and he was busy preparing rebel tours to break the international isolation of white cricket. This isolation was led by all the former colonised countries such as India, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The other cricket-playing countries such as England, Australia and New Zealand only joined the boycott of South Africa at a later stage. Clive Lloyd, also a former captain of the great West Indies team, who was not fully aware of the socio-political-economic situation in South Africa, agreed to come to the country to speak to all cricket administrators. But Mackerdhuj and his fellow non-racial officials were totally opposed to Lloyd visiting South Africa at a time when the white minority was still in control of the country.
(Krish Mackerdhuj attending a workshop at the Sastri College Hall in Durban in the 1980s when the struggles against apartheid sport were at its height.) They had adopted the policy of “no normal sport in an abnormal country”, a vision of Mr Hassan Howa, who was president of the South African Cricket Board of Control (SACBC) in the late 1970s. The opposition by Mackerdhuj and his officials was fully supported by the South African Council of Sport(SACOS), the United Democratic Front(UDF), the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee(SANROC), which was based in London; and the ANC in exile. I spoke to Mackerdhuj about their attitude to Clive Lloyd’s proposed visit. He outlined that they respected the West Indian great as a cricketer but they as South Africans knew when international isolation of South African sport should be lifted. This is what Mackerdhuj had told me in an interview at that time: “We have the utmost respect for Clive Lloyd as West Indies captain and his efficiency and ability in cricket. The system here would use him without any strings attached. They will go out of their way to use him and that’s why people like Ali Bacher jumped to issue an invitation to him. “By Lloyd coming here he would embarrass us. He must have nothing to do with them. Change must come from within the country. People who sit to talk must talk on an equal basis. There can’t be a master-slave relationship. There can’t be a privileged person sitting with an under-privileged person.” Mr Mackerdhuj, who in the early 1990s became the first president of the new United Cricket Board of South Africa, was just one of the hundreds of non-racial sports administrators who used sport to further the struggles for a non-racial, just and democratic new South Africa. The others included such luminaries as M N Pather, who was the secretary general of the non-racial tennis union and SACOS; Don Kali, who was involved in the tennis union; Mr Morgan Naidoo, who was leader of the non-racial swimming union; Mr Norman Middleton, who was leader of the non-racial South African Soccer Federation; Paul David, who was involved in the Natal Cricket Board and the Natal Council of Sport (NACOS)and Mr Hassan Howa.
(Krish Mackerdhuj with Nelson Mandela at a cricket match in the early days of the new South Africa.) There were others such as Mr Cassim Bassa, who was involved in table tennis, Mr Ramhori Lutchman, Dharam Ramlall, S K Chetty and Mr R K Naidoo of the South African Soccer Federation Professional League; and Mr Pat Naidoo and Harold Samuels of the Natal Cricket Board. Mr Mackerdhuj in that interview in the early 1980s expressed the views of his fellow anti-apartheid sports administrators when he had said that “normal sport” could only be played and enjoyed once the country’s people were also politically free. This is what he had told me: “You can’t have discrimination in some fields and no discrimination in others. This is our fight in sport. You can’t say there’s going to be no discrimination in sport and yet we have discrimination in other aspects of our lives. We have made it clear what we stand for, I don’t think the other side have made it clear what they stand for. “And these people you know recently came out with a declaration of intent and Ali Bacher was one of them. The Declaration was that they were preparing for non-racialism in sport. “We say the declaration of intent by any sane thinking person with interest in non-racial democracy in South Africa should be against detentions without trial, against the unjust laws in the country, against discriminatory education, against influx control, against the activities of the police and defence forces in the townships. That’s the kind of declaration that must come out of people who are interested in a future non-racial and democratic South Africa.” POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS Mackerdhuj, who was born in Durban in August 1939, had become politically-conscious after he matriculated at Sastri College and studied at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape for his BSC degree from 1958 to 1963. While at Fort Hare he joined the ANC but this open involvement was shattered when the ANC and PAC were banned in 1960. He told me that when he returned home in 1963 and joined Shell and BP as a technologist, he had decided to use sport to further the cause of the ANC in the struggles for a non-racial and democratic society. Although he was active in soccer and table tennis, he had decided to concentrate on cricket, both as a player and administrator. He joined the Crimson Cricket Club and thereafter promoted the cause of non-racial sport through the Durban and District Cricket Union, the Natal Cricket Board, the South African Cricket Board of Control and later the United Cricket Board(UCB). In the ongoing struggles for a non-racial and democratic society, he served the NCB as president for eight years from 1976-1984; president of SACBOC from 1984 to 1990; the South African Council of Sport(SACOS) since its inception in 1970s and the Natal Council of Sport (NACOS) as a founding member and president. In the struggles to isolate apartheid South Africa, Mackerdhuj, after being denied a passport on several occasions, travelled to London in 1987 to attend a meeting of the International Cricket Council(ICC). Here he campaigned successfully with the help of Sam Ramsamy of SANROC for South Africa to be banned from international cricket until apartheid was abolished and the disenfranchised people people in South Africa attained their political, social and economic freedom. MACKERDHUJ AT LORDS IN LONDON Mackerdhuj travelled to Lords in London again in 1989 to present a petition to the ICC against the rebel tour to South Africa by England’s Mike Gatting and his team. After the establishment of a united cricket body following the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC in February 1990, Mackerdhuj served as deputy president of the UCB for one year from 1992 to 1993 and as president from 1993 to 1997. Mackerdhuj stepped down from the UCB in 1997 after he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve as Ambassador to Japan. He served South Africa in this position for five years. During one of his visits back home at this period, I again interviewed Mackerdhuj while I was working as a senior political journalist at the SABC. "MY NEW ROLE AFTER FREEDOM" He had told me that throughout his life he had served the country and the ANC by campaigning for a non-racial democracy through the medium of sport. “I am now happy to serve my country in a new role after we have attained our freedom. We have a long road to travel because we have to continue to work in all spheres to promote a better life for all people. “We will have to be prepared to overcome many hurdles because the road ahead will not be easy.” In the new South Africa, Mackerdhuj was presented with a number of awards for his contributions to the struggles. These included the State President’s Award for Sports Administration by President Nelson Mandela in 1994; the Sports Administrator of the Year award in 1993 and 1994 by the Natal Sportswriters Guild; and life member of London’s Marleybone Cricket Club(MCC) in 1996. Mackerdhuj passed on, on the 26th of May 2004 at the age of 65. The role played by Mackerdhuj and others such as M N Pather, Morgan Naidoo, Hassan Howa and George Singh should not be forgotten. But, unfortunately, 23 years into our new non-racist society, the contributions by activists of the calibre of Mackerdhuj seems to have been trampled on by the return of racism in many disguised forms. What a shame? What a sad commentary of the state of affairs? Ends – subrygovender@gmail.com

OTTAWA RESIDENTS DEMAND ACTION AGAINST THE SEWER STINK THEY HAVE TO PUT UP WITH ON A DAILY BASIS

WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH - SAY RESIDENTS IN RIVERVIEW ROAD, MUNN ROAD, SCHOOL ROAD AND OTHER AREAS OF OTTAWA AND NEARBY RESIDENTIAL COMPLEXES (One of the community leaders - Charles Govender - making it clear at the meeting that they had had enough of the sewer stink) By Subry Govender "REDUCE OUR RATES" - IS THE CALL TO THE ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY The residents of Ottawa, near Verulam, on the North Coast in South Africa have decided to intensify their campaigns for a rates reduction following admissions by Ethekweni council officials that they will have to live with the sewer stench problem engulfing the area. They took the decision at a fiery meeting held under the auspices of the Ottawa Environmental Forum at the Ottawa Town Hall last Thursday (Nov 16). The meeting was a follow-up to an emergency meeting that was held at the same venue a fortnight ago after serious sewer odour engulfed Ottawa and the Woodview and other areas of Phoenix. The residents expressed their anger after council officials disclosed at the November 16 meeting that sewer stench emanating from the nearby Phoenix Waste Water Treatment plant will recur during the current upgrading processes of the plant. (Ottawa residents attending one of the recent meetings at the Ottawa Hall) “There will be regular upgrades and maintenance work and during this process, some odour will escape into the atmosphere,” said Ritesh Kandhai, an electrical and mechanical engineer. He told the residents he could not say for how long the residents of Ottawa would have to put with the sewer odour. He said the Phoenix sewer plant was being upgraded to cater for the increase in sewer from nearby Cornubia and the Cornubia Mall. Community leaders and residents said they were fed up and not prepared to accept the current situation. One resident said they would have to resort to stronger actions in order to highlight the failure of the municipality in taking into account that the residents of Ottawa and other residential areas were entitled to “clean and fresh” air. One of the local community leaders, Mr Charles Govender, said it seemed the municipality was not concerned about the health of the residents. “In view of the disclosure now that this odour will not be completely eradicated, we call on the municipality to reduce our rates for as long as we have to live with the stench,” he said. (Another concerned residents speaking out during the recent meetings at the Ottawa Hall)
(THE FACILITATOR OF THE OTTAWA ENVIRNOMENTAL FORUM - MS ANDISHA MAHARAJ - WHO IS LEADING THE FIGHT AGAINST THE DAMAGE BEING CAUSED TO THE HEALTH OF THE PEOPLE AND THE ENVIRONMENT BY THE SEWER STENCH) The facilitator of the Ottawa Environmental Forum, Ms Andisha Maharaj, told the meeting that the current sewer odour problem was a direct result of the failure of the municipality to plan properly. “If any planning was done at a strategic level, then it certainly was not to serve the interests of the people. The decisions taken are bearing down on the lives of residents already in the areas of Cornubia, Ottaawa, Parkgate, Palmview, and Woodview. “The authorities are fully liable for the chaos that have been created in the region,” said Ms Maharaj. In addition to the re-iteration of their demands for a reduction in their rates, the residents have also resolved to pursue their representations to the Human Rights Council(HRC) which has already been informed of the denial of their human rights to “clean, fresh air”. They also resolved to pursue legal processes to enforce their rights to clean air. MONITORING THE STINK In the meanwhile, the residents have appointed three community representatives to work with municipal officials to monitor the ongoing sewer odour emanating from the Phoenix treatment works. The monitoring team municipal officials were seen in Munn Road and Riverview Road in Ottawa on Wednesday, November 22 (2017) talking to residents about the sewer stench. One resident, Mrs Radhika, of Riverview Road said the stink emerged once again on Tuesday (November 21) evening. “This stink is terrible. We were just sitting down to have our evening meal when we got the stink,” she said. “It seems the municipality is taking us for granted. It’s terrible that they don’t care about us.” Mrs Radhika said the sewer dam should be moved to Umhlanga Rocks because the Phoenix Water Treatment Plant was unable to cope with the extra flow of sewer from nearby areas such as Cornubia and Cornubia Mall. Ends – subrygovender@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

GOVIN REDDY – A MEDIA PROFESSIONAL WHO PLAYED HIS ROLE FOR A NON-RACIAL AND DEMOCRATIC SOUTH AFRICA

(MR GOVIN REDDY) BY SUBRY GOVENDER Mr Govin Reddy, a media personality who passed away in the early hours of Friday Oct 13 (2017) morning at the age of 74, was also a struggle activist who contributed and paid the price for South Africa’s freedom. Forty-one years ago in the early hours of August 19 1976, six apartheid security policemen descended on his home in Overport, Durban (near the former famous Admiral Hotel), and detained him under the notorious and infamous Internal Security Act. The security policemen raided and searched his home for more than an hour from 3am to 4am for “communist literature” and for being a “threat to the security of the state”. Mr Reddy, who was a research officer for the South African Institute of Race Relations at this time, was detained along with eight other people in the Durban area and taken to the Modder B Prison in Benoni, near Johannesburg. The others detained were four medical students now doctors – Diliza Mji, David Dube, Norman Dubizane and R. Taoele -; three leaders of the Umlazi Residents Association – Mr Vitu Mvelase, Mr David Gaza, and Mr George Sithole; and Mr Bobby Mari, an activist from the township of Merebank. Prior to his detention, Mr Reddy had just started work with the Institute for Race Relations and was active with leaders of the calibre of Professor Fatima Meer in the Institute for Black Research and with Archbishop Denis Hurley. He also worked very closely with the late Mewa Ramgobin, who was leader of the Natal Indian Congress at this time. A visiting American professor of history, Dr John Rowe, who was a guest of Mr Reddy and his family, was present when the security policemen conducted their raid at Mr Reddy’s home on the morning of August 19 1976. Mr Reddy had studied under the tutorship of Dr Rowe at the Northwestern University in Evaston, Illinois from 1969 to 1973 when he had completed his Masters Degree in History. He had travelled to the United States after completing his BA (Hons) at the then University of Durban-Westville in 1969. Dr Rowe, who was on a tour of Africa at this time, spoke to this correspondent who worked for the Durban Daily News at this time. He said in an interview a day after Mr Reddy’s detention that the raid by the security policemen had been a great shock and a traumatic experience for Mr Reddy’s young wife and year-old son. It was also a traumatic experience for him as a visitor. This is what he told me: “I stood in the pre-dawn darkness watching the police, who kept saying that they were going to keep him (Mr Reddy) for a long time, away from his family. Beside me, his wife held their year-old son in her arms and cried softly as Mr Reddy was being taken away by the police. “Mr Reddy is concerned for the future wellbeing of his country, believing that the best way to combat Communism is to bring the races together rather than keeping them apart.”
Mr Reddy and his fellow detainees were held for four months and during this period, this correspondent visited him at Modder B Prison in Benoni. Asked about his detention and him being away from his young family, he had said: “This incarceration and detention is something that we have to put up with until we get rid of this apartheid regime and establish a non-racial and democratic society. It’s a sacrifice for our freedom.” Mr Reddy and the other activists had been detained at a time when the former apartheid state was conducting massive repressive actions against social, religious, sporting and political leaders in the aftermath of the Soweto uprisings on June 16 1976. On his release on December 29 1976, Mr Reddy was served with a five-year banning order which prevented him from continuing with his work at the Institute of Race Relations. He was banned along with Mr George Sithole, secretary of the Umlazi Residents Association; and Mr Rashid Meer, who was detained a day earlier on August 18. Mr Meer, who is now late, was the only son of Professor Fatima Meer and her husband, Ismail Meer. Mr Reddy set up a small book shop in West Street to “make ends meet”. He later set up an office next to the offices of the Press Trust of S A News Agency in 320 West Street Building to assist leaders such as Griffith Mxenge, Dr Khorshed Ginwala, A E Gangat and Archie Gumede in the launch of the Ukusa newspaper. But the security police came to know of this move and sabotaged the project by regularly raiding the offices of Press Trust and banning the chief proponent, this correspondent. Mr Reddy found that the security policemen were making life difficult for him and sometime in 1981, he skipped the country through the Natal/Swaziland border to go into exile. After being in Swaziland for a few months, Mr Reddy travelled to Europe. He was stationed in Rome in Italy from 1985 to 1988, working for the Inter Press Service (IPS). Through the IPS, he published regular articles on the South African struggles. In this regard, he obtained most of his information through the Press Trust news agency. In 1989 he moved to Harare in Zimbabwe where he worked for the Africa South magazine until 1991. He returned to the country in 1991 and settled in Johannesburg at a time when serious negotiations were taking place between the ANC and other organisations on one side and the apartheid regime on the other for the establishment of a non-racial and democratic society. Mr Reddy put his media expertise into constructive use by joining organisations for the transformation of the broadcast media in the country. After serving as vice-chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa that was based in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, between 1992 and 1993, Mr Reddy served as chairman of the Broadcast Monitoring Project between 1993 and 1994. After the democratic elections in April 1994, Mr Reddy was appointed as the head of radio at the South African Broadcasting Corporation(SABC). He served in this position under the late Zwelike Sisulu, who was the CEO of the SABC after 1994. In 1997, Mr Reddy was appointed acting CEO of the SABC after Mr Sisulu resigned to enter the business world. Mr Reddy had hoped to be appointed to this position on a permanent basis but was forced to move out of the SABC in 1998 after major differences with some members of the SABC Board. Despite the unpleasant treatment by the SABC, Mr Reddy continued to work in the media sphere as President of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association in 1998. Then for three years he worked as Chief Executive of the Mail and Guardian until 2002. Between 2002 and 2008 he served the media and business world in a number of capacities. These included the Sol Plaatjie Media Leadership Institute at Rhodes University, Media Development and Development Agency, The Media Magazine, IPS, International Marketing Council of South Africa and the South African Business Forum in India. At the time of his passing on August 13, Mr Reddy was a non-executive Director of the National Lotteries Board and Professor Extraordinary in the Department of Journalism at Stellenbosch University and Department of Political Science at Pretoria University. He was also chairperson of the IPS Africa and members of Advisory Board of the Centre for Indian Studies at the University of Witwatersrand. I had come to know Mr Reddy very closely and became a family friend and colleague after one day in the early 1970s he walked into the newsroom of the Daily News in the former Field Street, Durban. When I saw him I walked up to him and asked him whether I could help him. He told me that he had just returned from the United States and that he had been appointed a research officer at the Durban offices of the S A Institute of Race Relations. He had a press release on his appointment and asked whether we could publish it. I told him that he must leave it with me and I would write a story about his appointment. The following day Mr Reddy telephoned to thank me for the article saying it had been published in the news column of the Daily News. Since then I used to visit him regularly at his office and even at his home in Overport. We became comrades in the struggle against white minority rule and domination. Mr Reddy’s funeral took place on Oct 16 2017 at the Brixton crematorium in Johannesburg. The funeral was attended mainly by family members and friends. A memorial service was held for him at the SABC in Auckland Parl in Johannesburg on Sunday, October 22 (2017). Mr Reddy, who was born in the Wyebank area, west of Durban, is survived by his wife, Tessa, four children – Sudeshan, Priya, Maica, Nyal, a new-born grandchild and several siblings, nephews, nieces and cousins. Ends – subrygovender@gmail.com Oct 16 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

TOP POLITICAL LEADER CALLS FOR UNITY WITHIN THE ANC AND GREATER SOCIAL INTER-ACTION BETWEEN AFRICAN AND INDIAN PEOPLE IN SOUTH AFRICA AT THE ONE YEAR MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR STRUGGLE ACTIVIST, MEWA RAMGOIBIN

(MR MEWA RAMGOBIN ADDRESSING A PROTEST MEETING IN VERULAM AT THE HEIGHT OF THE STRUGGLES IN THE 1980s) By Subry Govender
(PREMIER WILLIES MCHUNU TALKING TO FORMER STRUGGLE ACTIVIST, DR FAROUK MEER, AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE) The Premier of the KwaZulu-Natal Province, Mr Willies Mchunu, has called for those using violence to promote their political ambitions to be identified and brought to justice. He made the call when addressing a number of political activists, political prisoners and others who attended the one year memorial service for struggle activist, Mewa Ramgobin, at the Somtseu Road Temple in Durban on Sunday, Oct 15. Mr Ramgobin passed away at the age of 84 in Cape Town on Oct 17 last year. Mr Mchunu said Mr Ramgobin and other leaders had stood for a united ANC without factions and divisions. He said the current violence in the province had affected unity in the ANC. “We are promoting dialogue to end this problem and we have faith in the Moerane Commission to identify the people responsible and for justice to be done,” he said.
(PREMIER WILLIES MCHUNU IN CONVERSATION WITH SATISH DHUPELIA, ELA GANDHI AND MEMBERS OF THE GANDHI FAMILY) Mr Mchunu also strongly condemned those involved in corruption and said this evil must be rooted out.
Mr Mchunu identified and acknowledged the former activists who attended the service. The activists had contributed to the liberation of South Africa and the establishment of a non-racial, democratic society. Some of the people he acknowledged were Ms Ela Gandhi, Mr Swaminathan Gounden, Dr Farouk Meer, Bishop Rubin Philip, Dr Dilly Naidoo, Sonny Singh, and Paddy Kearney.
He also acknowledged Mr Logie Naidoo, the former Deputy Mayor and Speaker of Ethekwini Municipality. He called on Mr Naidoo and the other activists to use their special skills in order to promote greater interaction and social cohesion between the African and Indian people. “Prior to the establishment of the group areas act we all lived side by side in Cato Manor and other areas. We lived in peace and harmony but this was shattered when the apartheid regime created townships such as Phoenix, KwaMashu, Umlazi, Chatsworth and Wentworth. “In the new South Africa we must all work together and promote the dream of our non-racial and democratic South Africa,” he said.
Ends – subrygovender@gmail.com

Monday, September 25, 2017

Muniamma Family members who attended Isaac Govender's funeral in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, Sept 23 (2017)

SAVUNDALAY AUNTIE OF DUNDEE, WHO IS 90-YEARS-OLD, WAS ONE OF THREE SURVIVING MUNIAMMA AND COPPOOSAMY FAMILY ELDERS WHO ATTENDED THE FUNERAL OF OUR ISAAC MAMHA. THE OTHERS WERE AMOY AUNTIE (81) OF CHATSWORTH AND SOUNDLER GOVENDER(87), PERCY MAMHA'S WIFE. THEY WERE JOINED BY SCORES OF NEPHEWS, NIECES AND SOME OF THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS.