Ramaphosa praises book by Mohamed Enver Surty – In Pursuit of Dignity

By Al Qalam Reporter

AWQAF-South Africa has just published a book by Mohamed Enver Surty, the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, entitled In Pursuit of Dignity which is a collection of vignettes relating to “his professional, social, constitutional, parliamentary and executive activism”.

Surty will shortly be launching his book in various national centres across the country. The proceeds of the book sales will go towards a Waqf (endowment) for early childhood development for those with disabilities – and to promote young black writers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who previewed his book, praised the writings. “Even though I have known comrade Enver for more than 24 years, I find his vignettes both absorbing and interesting. He has a distinctively easy and flowing style of writing that brings to life his experiences…I have enjoyed the stories,” he said.

Justice Dikgang Moseneke, former Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, said: “In Pursuit of Dignity is a compelling and thoughtful collection of short stories that flow imperceptibly into a strong tale of a stalwart …I admire his role as an activist attorney, his ready interaction with communities and his ultimate entry into the liberation movement.”

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor, said that Surty has created a riveting read. “This is vintage Surty – committed, transparent, humble, witty and intelligent. This book is an insight into South Africa – today, yesterday and the future. There is so much to learn here: politics, constitutional law, family and social relations – a book from an insightful, truly amazing writer.”

Surty was born in Rustenburg, North West Province, 65-years ago. The town boasts apartheid-era Foreign Affairs minister, Pik Botha, and the bank robber, Andre Stander, as some of its more famous or notorious sons. However, few would remember how anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer hid on a farm near the town in 1965 to avoid arrest, and that during apartheid, blacks had to be off the streets by 9pm. An air-siren would herald the nightly curfew. Surty weaves these stories in his book.

It is against this background of forced removals, Afrikaner conservatism and the “dompas” that Mohamed Enver Surty grew up.

 Brought up on the black side of the apartheid fence, he qualified in law, practicing as an attorney and human rights lawyer for 17 years. His principled anti-apartheid activism in the community did not go unnoticed. In 1994, he was called by the ANC to be Member of Parliament in the Senate – and its successor the National Council of Provinces – which he served for 10 years in various capacities, including as its chief whip for five years.

 He was a member of the Management Committee of the Constitutional Assembly, as well as a highly respected negotiator for the ANC on the Bill of Rights.

In 2004, Surty entered cabinet as Deputy Minister of Education, serving a short stint as Justice Minister before moving back to the educational portfolio, which he currently holds.

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