By Al Qalam Reporter
As an activist for justice, South Africa’s iconic figure, Dr Zuleikha Mayat (93) is never one to mince her words no matter how uncomfortable the truth can be.
So when she was invited to receive the “Women of Influence Award” from The Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (Gopio International) in Durban recently, she wasted no time in castigating India for its brutal oppression of the Kashmiri people, saying “India has departed from the Indian nation, to a Hindutva nation”
Dr Mayat, who is also a noted writer and humanitarian, was one of 28 people from all backgrounds to receive awards for making a difference in society as a whole. The event was held in conjunction with GOPIO and 1Woman Pact Foundation, at the Redfern Community Hall, Phoenix.
In her acceptance speech, Dr Mayat praised the organization for it strides to enhance links between Indians in the Diaspora with India.
“I am honoured to accept this prestigious award in Women’s month from GOPIO, which promotes international alliances.
“Coming from the old school I believe in the importance of retaining culture. India has more to offer besides the enjoyable Bollywood.
“To know one’s roots is NOT to be sectional. I am South African, where I lived my entire life experiencing all the good and bad that my country has given me.
“The Holy Quran states: “O mankind, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another”.
“What this means is that diversity enriches the rainbow nations of the World, and should NOT divide and cause dispute. My little reading of Hindu, Jewish and Christian texts reveals that their sacred Scriptures resonate with similar ideals. Each promotes good for all of humanity.
“At 93, having passed my sell-by-date, I ponder over what to share with you. In remaining true to myself, I must say things NOT to please, but to share my innermost feelings with you.
“I have always had the fondest regard for India. Its culture is part of my DNA. It has helped shape who I am. I have visited India on numerous occasions, savouring its rich tapestry of history, beliefs, magnificent architecture and cuisine. I have stayed in the very basic mud homes of my relatives in Gujarat.
“From adolescence I was proud of our activists, Naicker, Goonam, Ismail and Fatima Meer, all principled leaders like Mandela, Sisulu and Kathrada. I was equally proud of the greats like Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and Sarojini Naidu.
Both in India and South Africa, we lived in hope because of these leaders who were not only eloquent and intelligent, but principled, standing up against injustice everywhere.
“Sadly South Africa has departed from the Freedom Charter ideals, to endemic corruption and State Capture. I despair at R472-million Gupta wedding.
“Sadly India has departed from the Indian Nation, to a Hindutva Nation.
“I could never have imagined an India, when at the stroke of midnight, 70 years of oppression is proudly declared as the new normal, which has lost its sight by taking its cue from Israel to imprison a state with military occupation, firing pellets to blind little children. These are not my words, but those of Amnesty International, of which our Kumi Naidoo is the Secretary General.
“Cherished ideals should NOT be a thing of a bygone age. Sure the world was economically poorer, technologically backward, but immensely richer in values. Whilst embracing the advances, we must treasure justice (including economic justice) for all, both in South Africa and elsewhere.”
Dr Mayat’s speech was warmly received amidst loud clapping.