Text of Speech Given by Charge D'affaires, Mr Mashudubele Mamabolo, on the occasion of Centennial Tribute and Commemoration of Enuga Reddy, the anti-apartheid activists, 05 January 2024 in New Delhi.
On behalf of the South African High Commission to India, it is such a great pleasure to be invited to say a few words during this Centennial celebration of this great son of not only India, but the world. Indeed, a gentleman with a huge heart for humanity.
Right in the beginning, I must make a confession that as I am only five-months old in India and have never worked on India or participated in any liberation struggle since I am part of the young generation, when I received the invitation to speak here, I stopped and wondered who was this man whom, a lowly diplomat is asked to talk about. I did not have the faintest idea who he was. However, as anyone would do, I went straight to the internet, and I was shocked by what I discovered.
Lo and behold! While reading the first article I came across about Dr Enuga Reddy I could not help but be mesmerized by the incomparable contributions he made not only to the liberation of South Africa, but that of Africa in general. I kept on wondering if my democratic government had honored this giant of our struggle against apartheid. Remember at this moment of discovering, I had not yet discovered much about him, but already I had begun to entertain the idea that if my country had not honored Comrade Reddy, I was personally going to make a proposal right in this platform to have him honored posthumously.
Just when I was beginning to put some notes down, I received a treasure trove of a Festschrift from Dr Borker which I perused with passion. It was in that tour de force that I discovered that indeed my government could not have committed an omission of not honoring this giant with the highest award named after his Comrade in arms and also a stalwart of our liberation struggle, Mr Oliver Tambo in the form the Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo. This highest award was instituted on 6 December 2002, and is granted by the President of South Africa to foreign citizens who have promoted South African interests and aspirations through co-operation, solidarity, and support.
You may already be asking yourself why did Dr Reddy deserve such a highest award granted by the highest office of the land in South Africa? Let me preface the answer of this question with the following quotation extracted from one of the speeches he made at the United Nations:
“The destruction of apartheid is our goal as much as that of the people of South Africa. Mr. Chairman, I cannot feel free, as an Indian, until South Africa is free of apartheid. You can count on me as a volunteer in international campaign against apartheid until that great day”
It is indeed gratifying that Dr Reddy who dedicated his life lived so long to see the great day which heralded the death of apartheid and he continued to live long until he was honored by our democratic government in 2013.
To me there is no doubt that Dr Enuga Reddy was a selfless human being with a heart of Ubuntu- an African philosophy which implies that I am because you are!
You would recall that he left India as a graduate of Mathematics heading to the US to study Chemical Engineering in Illinois. Owing to the fact that he had the highest level of political consciousness, his stopover in New York made him get involved in political activism. As such Dr Reddy never continued with a sojourn to Illinois to pursue his studies in Engineering. We know that a postgraduate degree in Engineering during those times would have earned what we regard as a better life these days- these are things like green card, a good job, house in a suburb, an expensive car and probably an American wife! However, the legendary Dr Reddy sacrificed all these to be on the right side of history. He chose to ground himself with the suffering masses of South Africans and the struggles of African people in general. I mention this because when you read the Festschrift you would come across his interaction with big names in the struggle of African people such as W.E.B DuBois, Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe and many others.
Indeed, people of Dr Reddy’s caliber are rare to come by today. Today as we speak, the Palestinian people are under massive attack. How many of us are willing to sacrifice the so-called better life and stand with the Palestinians. I doubt if we still have people of Dr Reddy’s caliber in our midst.
To further illustrate this, let me quote my President in his tribute, entitled A Champion of Justice, during the passing away of Dr Reddy and I quote:
“ ES Reddy believed that speaking and acting against injustice was a normal duty and that we share a collective duty to strive towards a world free of oppression and discrimination; it is a struggle that continues today”.
It is also crucial to note that Dr Reddy was not only a political activist but a scholar par excellence. In this regard, his corpus of work on anti-apartheid struggles will continue to be read and utilized by future scholars and generations of leaders so that we do not forget where we come from and what we should become to build a better world for humanity. As a scholar as well as a diplomat with the UN, he used his hard-earned education and a position in the UN to speak for the oppressed masses of South African people.
Indeed, Dr Reddy should continue to rest in peace knowing fully well that his contributions towards a better life continues to inspire the approach of those who continue to chart a path to a better society.