Preserve our heritage – Navi Pillay
RESERVE our heritage!
That’s the advice to South Africa’s youth from former UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay.
The retired judge spoke to POST after receiving an honorary doctorate from the Durban University of Technology last week in recognition of her principled stance against injustice all over the world.
“I have been to 79 countries and seen how people preserve their ancient halls, and I look at what steps we are taking to preserve our heritage.
“Our libraries and halls are sometimes getting burnt in violent protests and it is really destroying our heritage,” said Judge Pillay.
“Some youth need to stop the extremist violent behaviour. The youth needs to lead the movement for change.”
Since leaving her UN post, she has been busy playing a role wherever she could, she said.
“I offer advice and help at the UN Commission for Human Rights. I have recently completed an assessment of the internal justice system with four other judges for the General Assembly. I am the vice-president of the International Commission against the Death Penalty. I am also on the steering committee of Donor Direct and I am on the council at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, to name a few,” she said.
Former Greenpeace boss Kumi Naidoo also received an honorary doctorate, for his outstanding contribution in the fight for human dignity for all, his community and student activism and his commitment to the eradication of poverty and injustice through multiple national, African and global movements.
The former Chatsworth resident encouraged graduands to stand up to any wrongdoers. “Do not adjust to inequality. Do not adjust to corruption. We rely on the new generation to stand up and say to our leaders and to our society how we can be much better than we are. You have struggled, strived and now have this privilege. Use it wisely and powerfully,” he said.
Naidoo said he was humbled to have been chosen for the doctorate. “Recognition and honours are always deeply humbling. Nothing I have achieved or done in my life has been an individual effort. My work was always done with others who have shared my values and made immense sacrifices themselves, so all of the individual recognition I receive is a reflection not only of me but so many of the values I have held as important my whole life.
“To receive this from an institution which once ran evening classes to assist students to complete their matric, I am so grateful, as I would never have been able to finish my schooling after I was expelled for taking part in boycotts, without this institution,” he said.
Naidoo’s life has been a roller-coaster of political and social justice activism.
He was only 15 when he joined pupils from his school, Chatsworth High, and others in a boycott protesting against a discriminatory education system.
Soon after, he became a frontrunner at all school protests.
He has spent his life committed to eradicating poverty and injustices. He is also the first African to become an executive director of Greenpeace International.
Naidoo now serves as a board chairman for the Pan-African Civil Society Movement, as a board member for 350. org and he is an ambassador to the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute.
Kumi Naidoo, right, and Navi Pillay were presented with honorary doctorates from the Durban University of Technology last week.