Today, our program had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Mac Maharaj, admired as one of the fathers of democratic South Africa and a man who was a great friend of Nelson Mandela.
Mr Maharaj and Mr Mandela were fellow inmates on the notorious Robben Island where political prisoners were incarcerated by the Apartheid government.
In an inspiring session, Mr Maharaj engaged us with stories of life on the Island and his many years as a leader of the Underground struggle to end Apartheid. He gave us insights into a range of key historical and contemporary political events in the country, and shared his perspective on global issues, past and present.
Our encounter with this iconic figure took place inside an exhibition space at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in downtown Durban, where an exhibition entitled South Africa in the Making traces the history of the anti-Apartheid struggle in photographs. An audio guide featuring music of resistance and descriptions of events during the Struggle accompanied photographs of key players and moments that helped bring an end to Apartheid. The poignant exhibition challenged us to understand the trajectory of South Africa’s path to democracy.
Mr Maharaj left us with words of hope and action. He told us he hoped that the challenges of globalization, growing global inequality, and the impact of climate change would motivate once-disparate communities to find a way to work together. It was his hope that these issues would bring communities together and allow them to push past their differences to pave the way for a more united, equal, and free tomorrow.