Jakes Gerwel honoured in Cape Town

By Drum Digital
18 January 2015

Anti-apartheid activist Professor Jakes Gerwel's efforts in building a more inclusive society were commemorated through the renaming of Vanguard Drive, Cape Town, in his honour on Sunday.

"In April last year, the City of Cape Town adopted the Naming Committee's recommendation to rename Vanguard Drive to Jakes Gerwel Drive," Mayor Patricia de Lille said in a speech prepared for delivery at the event.

"Over four decades of Professor Gerwel's life were spent here on the Cape Flats, which makes him a true son of the Cape Town soil."

Gerwel, who she described as "a courageous leader", spent many years living and working in the suburbs along the road.

When he became rector of the University of the Western Cape in the late 1980s, Gerwel opened student enrolment to all races.

"This was a bold act deeply rooted in his belief in the spirit of inclusivity."

"Renaming is a critical part of redress, as it allows us to remember our past while we determine what kind future we would like to build," De Lille said.

"Professor Gerwel's life, which was characterised by an unwavering commitment to a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society, exemplifies the kind of future we want for Cape Town."

She called Gerwel "a pioneer of Madiba's rainbow nation vision" and said he believed reconciliation was a process, rather an event.

"As we travel along Jakes Gerwel Drive, may we reflect on the road he has paved for us, and consider whether we are headed towards the same vision.

"Let us take the time to reflect on whether we have wandered away from that vision, and let us have the courage to find our way back again," De Lille said.

Controversy is currently raging over whether a road in the city should be renamed after FW De Klerk, a co-Nobel Peace Prize winner and the last apartheid president.

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