Tributes for struggle stalwart and author

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

The ANC and the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) has led South Africans in paying tribute to struggle veteran and renowned author Achmat Dangor.

Dangor (72)  was the former CEO of the NMF and led many developmental organisations such as Kagiso Trust, the Independent Development Trust.

 Dangor was also the brother of Jessie Duarte, the ANC’s deputy secretary-general (DSG).

In a statement, the ANC said: “The ANC dips its banner to this revolutionary and expresses its heartfelt condolences to the Dangor family, colleagues and friends, and to our DSG Cde Jessie Duarte for their tragic loss. In Achmat Dangor, the country has lost an important voice, but we can take comfort that his light will keep shining through his books and other writings.”

The ANC said Dangor was a leading activist in the fight against HIV and AIDS and published the following novels:

  • Waiting for Leila (1981)
  • The Z Town Trilogy (1990)
  • Kafka’s Curse (1997)
  • Bitter Fruit (2001)
  • Bulldozer (Poetry -1983) 
  • Private Voices (Poetry – 1992)
  • Strange Pilgrimages (2013).

He received the Herman Charles Bosman Prize for Kafka’s Curse, Bitter Fruit was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and Dangor also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the South African Literary Awards (SALA). Dangor was one of the founding members of the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW) and remained active in the cultural and development sectors, even after retirement. In an interview about writing, he remarked in 2002: “Writing is far more dynamic and sensitive and it engages human beings in different responses; the reader and the writer relate to each other in different ways.” 

The ANC said during the 1970s,  Dangor formed Black Thoughts with other writers in opposition to and as an alternative to the enslavement of the Bantu Education system. The group promoted books and writings from authors from Africa and other developing countries and did readings in townships and schools. Dangor was banned for his political activism and his writings.

The NMF’s chief executive Sello Hatang said: “The passing of Achmat Dangor has left us feeling bereft. He led the Nelson Mandela Foundation through a time of transition as Madiba stepped away from public life and mentored many of us in the process. Our thoughts are with his family, especially his partner Audrey and son Zac, at this difficult time.

“He saw in me something that I could not see. And he always saw a glimmer of light through whatever storm clouds were gathering. This feels like the saddest and heaviest day of my professional life.  Achmat’s multiple contributions to the struggle for liberation in South Africa and to the securing of democracy will not be forgotten. Nor will his support to Madiba at different times and in different roles. His was an extraordinary life, lived with courage, humour and a relentless honesty.”