Sunday marks 46 years since the martyrdom of Imam Abdullah Haron, one of the most prominent Muslim anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. Imam Haron died in police custody on the 27 September 1969, after days of torture by police. During a probe into the imam’s death, police claimed he had slipped down a flight of stairs, which had led to his bruises. However, it was found that Imam Haron had succumbed to a heart attack as a result of the significant trauma he experienced.
While playing a central role as the imam of Stegman Road Mosque in Claremont, the scholar was passionate about education and fighting for social justice. He thus extended his services to the poor and the needy, and also began to teach. But as the apartheid government became more oppressive, the imam started challenging the system through his Jumuah sermons and public lectures during the late 1950s and 1960s. Here he used the mimbar to critically challenge the apartheid regime’s racial laws. The imam became a voice for marginalised black communities in the townships.
In keeping his memory alive, the Haron family have for the past eight years, held a lecture in name aimed at addressing the critical social challenges facing the country. This year, Professor Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand will deliver the eighth annual Imam Haron Memorial Lecture on Wednesday 30 September 2015.
Prof Habib has titled his lecture: Transcending the Past and Reimagining the Future of the South African University.
“Answering the difficult questions about transformation in South African universities requires one to interrogate the academic legitimacy of the democratic government’s vision for the post-apartheid higher education system, and whether it has the courage to make the hard strategic political and fiscal choices required for the realisation of this vision,” said Prof Habib alluding some of the issues he will be addressing in his lecture.
Mustaq Brey, the chairperson of the Imam Abdullah Haron Educational Trust (IAHET) said the organisation is honoured to have someone of Prof Habib’s stature, a highly respected political commentator and academic, to deliver this year’s Memorial Lecture.
“The topic of the lecture is particularly pertinent given the current calls for transformation at South Africa’s institutions of higher learning,” said Brey.
Prof Habib follows a series of high profile personalities who have delivered the Imam Haron Memorial Lecture in previous years including the late Prof Neville Alexander, Minister Ebrahim Patel, Justice Albie Sachs, Prof Jonathan Jansen, Minister Naledi Pandor and former cabinet minister Trevor Manuel who delivered last year’s lecture.
The event is open to the public. The lecture takes place at the Elijah Loza Hall, Community House, Salt River Rd, Salt River at 19h30. VOC