Chatsworth: Book launch takes friends down memory lane

2009-03-23 00:00

Perhaps one of the best human rights celebrations was held at the Chatsworth Youth Centre, where octgenarian struggle activist Phyllis Naidoo launched her latest book, More Footprints That Shaped Our World. Sharing the bill with her was 79-year-old medical doctor Neelan Govender, who also launched his first book, Girrmit Tales, the untold stories of early Indian indentured labourers.

The irrepressible Naidoo managed through her own brand of gentle persuasion to get her good friend, former first lady Zanele Mbeki, to be her guest speaker. Mbeki said that anyone who knows her, knows that she does not speak in public. "The only person who got me to do so twice is Phyllis."

The afternoon was a nostalgic reminder of a time of struggle, idealism and sacrifice for a better world. A reminder of the indomitable spirit of the indentured labourers, those colonial slaves who faced their hardships with fortitude and survived. The programme was interspersed with resistance songs such as Pete Seeger's Where have all the flowers Gone. Naidoo wrote in her book of the comfort Seeger's music provided to activists while they were imprisoned.

Mbeki thanked Naidoo for digging even deeper into her memory to bring out the stories of unsung heroes of the struggle. She said their sacrifice fertilised the ground for South Africa's freedom, democracy and human rights and so often those sacrifices are taken for granted.

Govender dedicated his book to community stalwart, the late Dr Pat Poovalingam. He said Poovalingam urged him to write the book and gave it the title Girrmit Tales - from the workers mispronunciation of the word "agreement" as "girrmit". He said the indentured labourers were known as girrmityas or girrmit-karans.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.