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Last week fighter aircraft flying in formation to look like the figure "100" swooped down The Mall and over Buckingham Palace to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Royal Air Force (RAF)....
Author: John Kane-Berman
Publication date: 16 July 2018
Publisher: PoliticsWeb
Petrus Mashishi, President of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) from its founding in 1987 until 2009, was both a man of his times and a giant representing working class principles of...
Publication date: 2018
Ottilie Abrahams was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable personalities of contemporary Namibia. She led through example as a political leader,grassroots activist, feminist and educationist from...
Author: Harry Boesak
In the late 1950s Ottilie Schimming Abrahams was among the first generation of Namibian students who pursued post-secondary education in Cape Town. Ottilie Schimming Abrahams was among the leading...
Author: Heike Becker
Publication date: July 2018
History may soon be a compulsory school subject until Grade 12 in South Africa. A task team established by the country’s minister of basic education made this bold recommendation in a report...
Author: Natasha Robinson
Publication date: June 7, 2018
Author: Peter Wilhelm
Publication date: 27 June 2018
I live at 6,000 feet in a society whirling, stamping, swaying with the force of revolutionary change. The vision is heady; the image of the demonic dance is accurate, not romantic: an image of...
Author: Nadine Gordimer
Publication date: 20 JANUARY 1983
Publisher: The New York Review of Books
Celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s life is an opportunity to move away from the cliché-ridden assessments of his multi-faceted personality. Understanding Mandela means grappling with the...
Author: Professor Raymond Suttner
Publication date: 28 May 2018
Publisher: Daily Maverick
An unusual, apparently contradictory set of personality traits combined to make Nelson Mandela the leader that he became. One of these was notorious stubbornness, which nevertheless combined with a...
Author: Professor Raymond Suttner
Publication date: 11 June 2018
Publisher: Daily Maverick
Despite the vast literature on Nelson Mandela, the qualities that his leadership comprised has been surprisingly neglected. If we are to learn from Mandela, we need to engage with what he did, how he...
Author: Professor Raymond Suttner
Publication date: 4 June 2018
Publisher: Daily Maverick
South Africa’s minister of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has released a report from a ministerial task team that recommends a major overhaul of the history curriculum at schools. Most of...
Author: Michelle Friedman
Publication date: 1 June 2018
A short, well-dressed 44-year-old man of the southern African Barolong tribe stood at the American border near Niagara Falls holding Canadian passport No. 79551. It stated the bearer was a British...
Author: Matthew Blackman
Publication date: 29 May 2018
Preface In the decade preceding the dramatic February 1990 unbanning of South Africa’s black liberatory movements, many hundreds of concerned South Africans undertook to make contact with exile...
Author: Michael Savage
Author: Julie Parle and Vanessa Noble
Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Occasional Publications of the Natal Society Foundation


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Art is an act of resistance. It asserts our agency. Omar Badsha has identified not only as an artist, but an activist for most of his life. Born in 1945, he grew up under the oppression of apartheid, facing injustice on a daily basis. He was harassed, his work was banned, and his movement was restricted. But Badsha fought back with photography. Today his work as a historian is ensuring that the truth of our past, and our future, remains free.     

Badsha discovered his love of politics through his father, being raised in a house where activists came to meet. He had dreams of studying art abroad, but in 1965 was denied a passport by the government. Nevertheless, he continued to create, and that same year one of his woodcuts won the first of many awards. As a man well known for his doggedness, veracity, and humanity, Badsha refused to exhibit his drawings and paintings in segregated galleries. When he joined the trade union movement he turned his eye to photography. Badsha’s first book of photographs, Letter to Farzanah, was banned after release. Now freely accessible, his book depicts the lives of South African children of all races and backgrounds during apartheid. “We came out of a society where our history was actually erased, totally, not recognised,” he says. “But we turned it around during the anti-apartheid struggle.”

Badsha’s extensive photographic work has been exhibited globally, and it’s his emotive images of ordinary people that illustrate the heart behind his activism. In the 1990s, Badsha was finally given his first passport. It was only valid for three months, but the freedom he fought for came soon after as South Africa held its first democratic elections on 27 April 1994. He then founded South African History Online, a non-profit project dedicated to preserving an open history of our country. It’s the largest website of its kind in Africa, and has a virtual classroom to help teach children. In 2017, Badsha was awarded an honorary doctorate by Stellenbosch University. His work serves as a reminder that the pain of our past is not to be forgotten. Instead, it is the key to our future, and our freedom.

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