Fatima Meer, South African anti-Apartheid activist is born

Sunday, 12 August 1928

Professor Fatima Meer was a writer, academic and human rights and gender activist who born in Grey Street Durban on the 12th August 1928. She was the daughter of Moosa Meer who was the editor and publisher of Indian Views a weekly publication aimed at the Gujarati-speaking Muslim community of Southern Africa. Fatima was the second of nine children in her family. She attended school at the Durban Indian Girls’ High School. In Durban, she became a political activist and organised a Student Passive Resistance Committee to support the Indian community fighting against the new legislation that was violating the land right of Indians in South Africa. During that time she was the one of the most prominent women leaders in South Africa. She published more than forty books, including the book titled “Higher than Hope (1988)”, the first biography of Nelson Mandela.

She later attended the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and also went to the University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal) where she obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Sociology. She was a professor at the university in 1956. She was placed in solitary confinement in 1976 and survived two assassination attempts. Meer was the first woman to be banned and her banning was renewed for another five years in 1981. Her ban prohibited her from visiting Durban and attending public gatherings. Despite her ban, Meer received a number of honours and awards from the government in both human rights organisations and academic institutions. On 13 March 2010, she passed away in Durban hospital at the age of 81 years.

• Van Allen, J., ‘Fatima Meer ’ from Britannica.com, [online], Available at www.britannica.com [Accessed: 05 August 2014]
• Choices.edu, Biography of Fatima Meer, from Choices for the 21st century program, [online], Available at www.choices.edu [Accessed: 05 August 2014]
• Devterms, (2011), ‘Tribute to Fatima Meer’, from Devterm, 21 March [online], Available at www.devterms.co.za [Accessed: 05 August 2014]

Last updated : 11-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 11-Aug-2014