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SA literary giant Ahmed Essop passes away

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South African author and former high school teacher, Ahmed Essop, passed away late last night at the age of 88 year old. Ahmed Essop is the author of several publications. His early works were published by Staffrider and Raven Press. His 1978 book ‘The Haji and other Short Stories’ received the Olive Schreiner Award. A significant body of his work explored the destructive impact of the apartheid policies on individuals and society.

Ahmed Essop was born in India and emigrated to South Africa where he obtained a BA and Honours degree and was employed as a teacher until 1986. he taught in Kliptown, Eldorado Park, Fordsburg and Lenasia.

Essop gave up teaching to pursue writing. Much of his focus was on the “Indian” role in South African society, of which many have racial themes. He has other books, one of which called, “Indians in the Transvaal,” is amongst those that are in the press.

Ahmed Essop was awarded the Olive Schreiner Prize in 1979 by the English Academy of Southern Africa for The Hajji and Other Stories, which is on DVD now.

His book, The Emperor deals with incidents at Ashoka High and the characters play-out in teach

Human rights activist and commentator Iqbal Jassat described Essop as one of South Africa’s literary giants and wrote this heartfelt tribute.

“We are heartened by the everlasting legacy of Ahmed Essop’s gigantic scholarship inscribed in the numerous award-winning books he authored.

His brilliant works which not only unearthed the deep insights of a profound thought leader, but also recorded a crucial commitment to human rights and freedom, will continue to inspire generations across the world.

Whether in essays or short stories, novels or poetry, reviews, critiques or biographies, Ahmed Essop’s contribution stands out in the numerous books he authored. The magical mastery of his pen is revealed in the way he added masterpieces of literary works especially during the oppressive conditions of apartheid when words were deemed subversive and subjected to banning and censorship.

Unassuming yet unafraid to court controversy, Ahmed Essop’s social activism placed him head and shoulder above other writers. Whether it was to confront the injustice of racism, disparity in education, American imperialism, Israeli barbarity, or to challenge his peers and students to never forfeit values of truth and justice, his iconic role will live on.

Ahmed Essop’s humility and simple life may be difficult to emulate in an age where materialism seems to have trumped modesty, yet the lessons to be drawn from his life provides unique challenges for human rights activists engaged in social justice issues.

May his legacy live on.”


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