The life of Jakes Gerwel

2012-11-28 07:56
Prof Jakes Gerwel (Supplied)

Prof Jakes Gerwel (Supplied)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

He grew up on a sheep farm and little did he know that one day he would become the right-hand man of South Africa's first democratic president.

Jakes Gerwel - an academic, executive and multi-award winner - served as director-general in the office of former president Nelson Mandela.

He was born on January 18 1946 in the Eastern Cape town of Somerset East and matriculated from Paterson High School in Port Elizabeth.

In 1967, Gerwel graduated from the University of the Western Cape with a Bachelor of Arts degree and completed his honours a year later.

In the late 1960s Gerwel became involved in the Black Consciousness Movement, led by Steve Biko. He became an educational advisor to the South African Students' Organisation (Saso) in the early 1970s.

Raising eyebrows

For a short while, Gerwel lectured at the Hewat Teachers' Training College in Cape Town and in 1971, he received a government scholarship to study at the University of Brussels.

Here he completed a licentiate [academic degree] in Germanic Philosophy and a literature doctorate.
When he returned to South Africa, he took up a teaching post at Grassy Park High School in Cape Town.

He later moved to the University of the Western Cape and became a lecturer.

In 1980, Gerwell was appointed a professor and just two years later a Dean of the Arts Faculty.
He was appointed vice-chancellor of the university five years later.

Gerwell's political participation raised university eyebrows and before his appointment to permanent staff he received three probations.

During the 1980 education protests, Gerwel was detained by police.

Nine years later, he and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, together with fellow teacher Franklin Sonn, were arrested during a march in Cape Town.

‘Intellectual home of the left’

In 1991, Gerwel was elected a member of the ANC's Western Cape regional committee.

The University of the Western Cape on its website, said Gerwel saw an "unambiguous alignment with the mass democratic movement and a new edge to the academic project".

It said that under the banner of "an intellectual home of the left", space was created for curriculum renewal and for innovative research and outreach projects.

"Important social and policy issues, which had been swept under the carpet by the government of the day, thus received attention," the university said.

It also formalised its "open" admissions policy, providing access to a growing number of African students.

In 1994, Gerwel was appointed to the post of director general in the office the Mandela presidency.

In a series of interviews with writer and researcher Padraig O'Malley, published on the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory website, Gerwel talked of the crucial years preceding South Africa's transition to democracy.

‘The miracle of our transition’

He also recalled the tough negotiations at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, and the first years after the election of Mandela as the country's first democratically elected president.

"We often forget the miracle of our transition, the fact that a country so deeply divided managed to negotiate a settlement and establish a democratic order, and establish a government of national unity and managed to establish national unity amongst the diverse, cultural, ethnic but particularly political groupings which we have in the country," he said in an interview in August 1998.

"So really one doesn't need to be very profound actually to make the statement that what has changed fundamentally in SA is that it has got a democratic government; SA has a government, has got a polity in which all of its people and all its political tendencies hold together."

Concerned about crime

During his own time in government, he named crime and unemployment as two areas of concern.

"So one would have wished that the combination of social factors and capacity for law enforcement was such that the crime situation was less critical than it is," he told O'Malley.

His awards include the Order of Southern Cross from Mandela, the Order of Good Deeds from Libya and Freedom of the Town from Somerset East.

He served as chairperson for Media24, the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, and chairperson of the board of trustees for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

He has also been a chairperson of SAA and a chancellor of Rhodes of University.

A rugby and cricket lover, Gerwel was the chairperson of the policy committee of the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

He was married to Phoebe Abrahams and they had two children a daughter Jessie, a son Heinrich and four grandchildren.

Read more on:    uwc  |  media24  |  jakes gerwel
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

Keep it together Text. Email. Social. With all the different ways to...

From R1399.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.