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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Meer, Fatima

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Fatima Meer was born in 1928 and grew up in Durban. Her father was editor and owner of Indian Views, essentially a Muslim paper that was founded in 1912. She completed her Masters degree in Sociology at the University of Natal.

She joined the Passive Resistance campaign, which took place from 1946 to 1948, and established the Students Passive Resistance Committee. She also assisted in establishing the Women's League in the Durban districts to build better relations between Africans and Indians after the race riots between the two groups in 1949. She spoke out against apartheid and in 1952 she participated in the Defiance Campaign in Natal, and in 1954 was one of the founders of the Federation of South African Women. She was also at the forefront of the women's march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956. She became one of the best known voices for the Black Consciousness movement and continued to speak out on racial issues after her banning in 1952 to 1954. She was elected the first president of the South African Black Women's Federation in December 1975.

In July 1976 the government refused to renew her passport and she was placed under a five-year ban that prohibited her from publishing or participating in political activity. She worked with NGOs in the 1980s to the 1990s, fighting for the rights of rural immigrants and shack-dwellers, and also established educational institutions designed to improve the quality of education of Africans. She has published more than 40 books on a wide variety of subjects and won numerous awards for her activities. Her biography of Nelson Mandela Higher Than Hope, was published in 1988.

Meer continues her work with NGOs, has served in advisory positions for the government, and is a member of Jubilee 2000 (formed to get Third World debt cancelled). Meer has lost both her husband (Ismael) and her son (Rashid) in the last few years.

Sources: Karis, T. and Carter, G.M. 1977. From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa 1882-1964, Volume 4. Hoover Institution Press: Stanford. Pp 86-87


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