South African writer and Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer has died in her Johannesburg home at the age of 90.
Gordimer was an anti-apartheid activist whose writings helped to expose South Africa’s white-minority rule government to a global readership.
Libby Meintjes is head of the School of Languages and Literature at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, describes Gordimer as a woman of principle.
Meintjes said that as an early member of the African National Congress (ANC), Gordimer believed that even if she did not agree with everything the ANC stood for, she wanted to join to make it a better organization.
“She’s a woman of principle and she’s always been an activist aside from being a literate person. She has always shown a tremendous strength of character with an indomitable spirit,” she said.
Gordimer was a critic of white-minority rule whose unbanned novels the late Nelson Mandela said he read during his years of imprisonment.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation described her as “a great writer, patriot and voice for equality and democracy”.
Meintjes said Gordimer was also believed to have helped write Mandela’s “famous” speech at his treason trial.
“All her work had political feelings. She had great concern around the issue of apartheid and racism. I think she also helped Mandela write his famous speech at the treason trial,” Meintjes said.
Meintjes said Gordimer became a member of the African National Congress when it was banned.
“She in fact was well ahead of her time in many ways because she reached her hand out to people all around, and she became involved with the ANC. She said even if she did not agree with all the principles of the ANC, she joined it to make it a better organization. That was basically the philosophy from which she worked,” Meintjes said.
Meintjes said even though Gordimer was a member of the ANC, she maintained her political independence throughout her life, and was critical when she felt it was necessary.
“Although she did appreciate the changes that have come about, she didn’t keep quite. She would speak her mind if she felt that things were not right,” Meintjes said.
Meintjes described Gordimer as a woman who stood up for the people who couldn’t stand up for themselves.
“She was very open, very carrying person and quite incisive,” Meintjes said.
Butty interview with Meintjes