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ANC stalwart sets his sights on Hout Bay

  • DenisGoldberg (2)
“I’m more afraid [of speaking out] now than I was in the old days, because we seem to be killing each other in the ANC.” These are the words of Rivonia triallist Denis Goldberg, who gave a brief address at a winter soiree presented by the Denis Goldberg Foundation and the Hout Bay Ingoma Choir at Groot Constantia on 26 July.
by MOIRA SCHNEIDER | Aug 02, 2018

Goldberg, 85, who has inoperable lung cancer, said that he was “tired of politics, tired of fighting”, and so was dedicating himself to raising the R6 million needed to fund the building of House of Hope, a centre dedicated to uplifting young people in the suburb.

The foundation aims to build bridges through arts and culture for the benefit of the young people of Hout Bay on land that was promised by the Western Cape government. It will also provide a space for after school and holiday programmes, including those focused on improving IT literacy.

Goldberg is one of the two remaining Rivonia trialists. The other is 93-year-old Andrew Mlangeni. He recalled fellow trialist Govan Mbeki – whose son, political economist Moeletsi Mbeki, was present at the event – relating to him that in 1947, he had gone into the CNA, and seen a book on the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. “That set him thinking, and led to his understanding that racism must lead to the gas ovens or the equivalent.

“He said in conclusion that he was an African nationalist, and believed in the liberation of the people of South Africa. However, he said he could never be a racist because that would mean becoming part of the extermination experience of the Nazi era. That was a great lesson for me, and for Nelson Mandela, who in 1940 was virulently anti-white, anti any kind of politics. [Mbeki] convinced him [otherwise].

“We come from a long tradition of people who have wanted to make South Africa a country for all its people,” Goldberg said.

He recalled that at the conclusion of the Rivonia Trial, eight of the 10 defendants who were on trial for their lives were sentenced to life imprisonment. Goldberg, then aged 31, received four life terms. “But,” he quipped, “my name is Goldberg, so I knew I’d get a 75% discount – one life sentence and not four!”

After the sentence, his mother, who had not heard the judge, had shouted, “Denis, Denis, what is it?”

“It’s life … and life is wonderful!” was Goldberg’s reply.

“Life is wonderful, you know, I really believe it,” Goldberg said at the fundraiser, “because we live in a country where a finance company [sponsor K2 Capital] can join with a guy of my reputation – a terrorist – and people of such diversity can join together for good wine, good food, and building a House of Hope.

“When you reach the autumn of your life (maybe the start of winter!),” Goldberg wrote in the programme notes, “you reflect on your life and what you leave behind. At a personal level, I’m not done yet! My hope is that this will be the capstone of my life.

“I’ve seen how art and creativity can bring people together. Creating a beautiful space for this to happen... will be my lasting contribution to the future of Hout Bay, which has been my home for so long. It is a place and community that has given me so much joy, peace, and fulfilment after a lifetime filled with a lot of happiness, but also far too much sorrow and solitude,” he wrote.

Goldberg thanked Tanya Blacher, the founder and manager of the Hout Bay Ingoma Choir that performed at the fundraiser. In 2013, Blacher moved from London to the Cape suburb with her husband and children. “She arrived, and decided she had to do something for the benefit of the community of Hout Bay,” Goldberg said.

Ingoma was formed in 2017 as a social enterprise and upliftment project in the aftermath of devastating shack fires and subsequent unrest in Imizamo Yethu, an informal settlement in the area.

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