Michael Sedgwick

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Biographical information

Synopsis:

Member of the South African Black Scholars Association, youth organizerat the Churches Urban Planning Commission (CUPC), employed at the Department of Labour in the Western Cape

First name: 
Michael
Last name: 
Sedgwick
Date of birth: 
20 February 1958
Location of birth: 
Claremont, Western Cape

Michael Sedgwick was born on the 20th February 1958 in Claremont in the Western Cape. He grew up in Hanover Park on the Cape Flats. His school career started at Rosmead Primary School in Hanover Park and then he proceeded to Oaklands High and Livingstone High. Here he had contact with a teacher, Virginia Engel, who was a former member of the Drama Society (Dramsoc) at the University of the Western Cape. She acted, in some of Adam Small’s plays, like “Kanna hy ko hystoe”, which depicted the struggle of the people on the Cape Flats in the 1950s. She was instrumental in the formation of a drama society in Hanover Park. Plays and skits were performed at various youth and church groups to raise awareness of the daily struggles for dignity and survival

During the early 1970s, organisations linked to the Black Consciousness Movement engaged in various activities to create political awareness in the Western Cape. Michael joined the South African Black Scholars Association (SABSA). Felow members were Ashiek Manie, Frank Smith and Glenville Adriaanse. The membership was trained in the conscientization methods developed by the Roman Catholic priest and Latin American educational philosopher Paulo Freire.

He had his first brush with the law when he and two other fellow SABSA members, Allen Liebenberg and Tony da Silva were challenged. They had decided to help a family (residing in an informal settlement next to the Nico Malan College for Nursing in Athlone) to build a more durable house. They were charged with illegal gathering and causing damage to council property and were convicted and sentenced to three years suspended for five years in the Wynberg court.

In January 1976 he joined the Churches Urban Planning Commission (CUPC) as a trainee youth organizer. Some of the seasoned community workers at the time at CUPC were Des Adendorf, Viviene West Jenny Kroukamp and Ann Tomlinson.

Michael initiated some of the seasonal vacation schools for high school students where they were exposed to conscientization programmes. Some of the facilitators of these programmes were Patric de Goede, James Matthews, Lionel Davis Desmond Engel.

He was detained in the 1976 crackdown on the uprising following the events in Soweto, and was held for a number of months in terms of the Internal Security Act at Victor Verster Maximum Security Prison, outside Paarl.

Following his release from his second spell at Victor Verster, in 1980, he went into exile.

Currently he is employed at the Department of Labour as a member of the department’s inspectorate in the Western Cape.

Last updated : 12-Aug-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011