Volunteers in the Cape Town B program had the opportunity to visit Denis Goldberg, a native South African who was one of the leading white activist during the struggle against apartheid. He helped create the College of Democrats and allied the organization with the African National Congress, and later became a technical officer for Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).
He was arrested in 1963, along with seven other comrades, including Nelson Mandela and Water Sisulu and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 after the famous Rivonia Trial. Goldberg was released in 1985, after 22 years in prison and became a spokesperson for the ANC; he represented the organization at the Anti- Apartheid Committee of the United Nations.
Goldberg invited OHS volunteers to his home in Hout Bay, where he shared stories and lessons from years of battling injustice. When asked if he had any advice for young activists, Goldberg reclined back in his chair, paused and said, “Never be patronizing, respect is what’s important. [Respect] its a way of relating to people. People should relate on a level of conscious equality.”
Additional quotes from the evening:
“Freedom doesn’t fall from trees. Freedom is something people struggle for.”
“Once you understand prejudice you can’t accept it. How can you let prejudice undermine your view of people?”
“I can’t accept injustice anywhere, just because my parents were this, that, or the other.”
“We can’t go on talking about the struggle, we have to do something else.”
“There’s nothing soft in prison.”
“He (Mandela) was a leader amongst other great leaders.”
“I grew up in a country where religion was a part of oppression.”
“Once people can read and write you can’t stop them from thinking.”
“If we could fight racism around the world, why would we tolerate it in South Africa?”
“Respect is the lubrication of society, you must respect everyone.”