Tribute to professor Kader Asmal

By Drum Digital
23 June 2011

I was shocked and deeply saddened when I heard that Prof. Kader Asmal passed away yesterday after a heart attack. We were aware that he had bone marrow cancer in the last few years; however that did not prevent him from participating actively in all that he did.

He gave his all to any work that he undertook. A few years ago he accompanied our former Minister, Dr Z. Pallo Jordan to UNESCO to assist in promulgating and popularising the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions which was adopted by UNESCO in October 2005 and was entered into force in March 2007.

The Convention sought to strengthen the five inseparable links of the same chain: creation, production, distribution/dissemination, access and enjoyment of cultural expressions, as conveyed by cultural activities, goods and services.  South Africa was accorded the privilege of chairing these meetings at UNESCO and Prof. Asmal was elected Chair of the first meeting of experts in Paris.

Through South Africa’s involvement in the International Network on Cultural Policy, our country played a significant role in the development of this convention and continues to be a leading voice articulating the perspectives of the developing countries in the ensuing debates.

Prof. Kader Asmal accomplished a lot during his active lifetime. He was a founder member of the Anti-Apartheid institutions in both Britain and Ireland. He represented South Africa on many platforms during the twenty-seven years he was Head of Law in Trinity College, Ireland, becoming immensely popular.

He contributed actively to the drawing of our democratic Constitution and continued to defend it and uphold it fiercely. He was the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry and then the Minister of Education.

A highly principled cadre, Prof. Asmal remained a loyal and honest member of the African National Congress. We will miss his intellectual analysis and his contribution to ongoing efforts to deepen and strengthen democracy in our country.

On behalf of the Department of Arts and Culture I convey our sincere condolences to his wife Louise and the children.

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