Johannesburg, Sep 7 (PTI) Achmat Dangor, South Africa’s celebrated writer and the first Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF), has died. He was 71.
Condolences for Dangor, who breathed his last on Sunday, have been pouring in with President Cyril Ramaphosa describing his demise as 'a loss to the literary, arts and culture fraternity and the country at large”.
“Achmat Dangor will be remembered for powerful and inspired writing that gave a voice to the voiceless and captured the bitter conditions under which our people suffered.
“Among the many lessons we draw from his life is the importance of supporting the arts and culture as key pillars of a country's development; as well as the role of artists as our national conscience,' Ramaphosa said.
Dangor joined the NMF in 2007, tasked with turning what was Mandela’s post-presidential office into a human rights-oriented non-profit organisation doing social justice work.
“He did an extraordinary job for Madiba and the organisation,” said NMF Chairman Professor Njabulo Ndebele.
“In just six years, he enabled Madiba to step away, and he retooled the organisation to fulfil Madiba’s dream for it,” Ndebele said.
Dangor was lauded by a host of organisations for his many years of outstanding service to other structures of civil society in South Africa as well, including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Kagiso Trust and the Ford Foundation.
He also received many accolades for his tenure with UNAids in Geneva, where he served as a Director before returning to South Africa to take on the role of Chief Executive of the NMF before retiring in 2013.
Besides his anti-apartheid activities during the white minority rule before Mandela became the first democratically-elected President in 1994, Dangor was also an acclaimed writer, and a founding member and Vice-President of the Congress of South African Writers.
Among his celebrated contributions to South African literature are works such as Bitter Fruit and Kafka’s Curse.
Internationally-renowned South Africa’s Indian-origin film magnate Anant Singh recalled his friendship with Dangor.
“We worked closely together during the early development of our film, ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ and he offered invaluable support and advice during the process.
“In 2005, we collaborated on a stage adaptation of ‘Happy Endings’ which he co-wrote with Junaid Ahmed. This adaptation became the popular Bollywood musical, ‘Bombay Crush’,” Singh said.
Dangor was buried according to Muslim rites on Monday night. PTI FH CPS