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Memorial for Frederik van Zyl Slabbert


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Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, one of Idasa's founders, died on 14th May 2010.

Idasa has compiled a series of tributes in recognition of the work of van Zyl Slabbert.

Van Zyl, as he was fondly known, represented a living embodiment of active citizenship as a South African and an African public intellectual. He made enormous contributions to democracy globally through, among others, founding the Institute for Democracy in Africa (Idasa) and being a critical part of the South African transition to democracy. His life was rooted in the values of social justice which guided his participation on an ongoing basis in considering what democracy is and how it should be lived by citizens of South Africa and other countries.

Published in: News & Politics
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Memorial for Frederik van Zyl Slabbert

  1. 1. 2 March 1940 – 14 May 2010
  2. 2. Frederik van Zyl Slabbert resigns from parliament ‘86
  3. 3. “ Here we stand trapped in a ridiculous debate while out there our country is bleeding”
  4. 4. “ I don’t see how this can continue.”
  5. 8. Arrival in Dakar ’87
  6. 11. “ We gather on foreign soil but on a shared continent, we are among friends although we live in a country whose government is determined to keep us enemies”
  7. 19. “ Our country is going through a very painful period. But it is not the pain of death… it is the birth of a new country”
  8. 32. “ His conventional Afrikaner upbringing did not prevent him from recognising the folly of the apartheid system. He was an outspoken critic of minority rule.” Office of the President, Jacob Zuma
  9. 33. Njabulo Ndebele, Idasa’s board chairman “ He established new alliances and friendships that transcended the old divisions.”
  10. 34. Alex Boraine, co-founder of Idasa “ He was a visionary, a living embodiment of active citizenship.”
  11. 35. “ He was an active and principled leader of society.” Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town
  12. 36. Peter Mollema, Deputy Head of Mission, Netherlands Embassy “ Truly a great man, who leaves us too early.”
  13. 37. Max du Preez, film-maker and columnist “ The sharpest political brain I have ever come across, he was a principled man, who paved the way for the new South Africa.” .
  14. 38. Koos van der Merwe, MP, IFP chief whip “ He was a Parliamentarian par excellence and I remember how once, in a mere three minute speech, he practically annihilated PW Botha.”
  15. 39. Helen Zille, Democratic Alliance leader “ He devoted his life to the development of a just South Africa, and he left our country a far better place than before.”
  16. 40. The Independent Democrats “ He was a true patriot and all South Africans owed him a debt of gratitude for the principled stance he took.”
  17. 41. Mark Gevisser, author and journalist “ He seemed both glamorous and earthy, both intense and irreverent, both easily approachable and fiercely intellectual.”
  18. 42. Brian Sokutu, ANC party spokesperson “ He will also be remembered as one of those white South Africans who facilitated contact with the ANC at the time it was banned inside the country.”
  19. 43. Bantu Holomisa, UDM leader “ The country has been deprived of an intellectual and moral leader.”
  20. 44. Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town “ Van Zyl Slabbert’s courageous foresight and persistence made a significant contribution to South Africa’s ability to make a peaceful transition.”