Rodney Pillay's Blog

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Toast : To Ruth First

Born to Jewish immigrants that founded the South African Communist Party, she grew up in a household full of intense political debate between people of all races and classes.

She attended the University of Witwatersrand, majoring in social studies. At the time the university allowed a small group of black students, and her fellow students included Nelson Mandela, Joe Slovo, JN Singh and Ismail Meer.

As a journalist she concentrated her efforts to the woman’s anti-pass campaign and the slum conditions of most townships. She also supported the mineworkers strike in 1946 and the Indian passive resistance campaign.

In 1953 she helped found the Congress of Democrats, the white wing of the Congress Alliance and became the editor of “Fighting Talk”, a journal supporting the alliance. She was on the drafting committee of the freedom charter but her banning order prevented her from attending.

In 1963 during the Rivonia trial, although she was not an accused, she was put into solitary confinement for 90 days, during which she attempted suicide.

When she was released she went into exile and campaigned from Britain. In 1977 she was given the post of professor and research director at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, It is here that she was assassinated by the South African Police… they used a letter bomb.

I have been asked many times… “Who is she and why has the M4 been renamed”

She was a freedom fighter, who died for her beliefs and never got to see her good friend Nelson Mandela be inaugurated on this day(10th May) in 1994

She was a liberator of women

And a leader of Men

Please stand as we raise a glass

To Ruth First


Written by rodneypillay

May 11, 2010 at 7:13 AM

Posted in Toast Masters, Toasts

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