Extraordinary, untold stories of a continuum of resistance
A compelling exhibition has opened at the Apartheid Museum. It tells the story of a family’s fight against oppression over four generations, in two countries, writes
Ramnie remembers: “We missed our extended family in Rockey Street. So we recreated Rockey Street, but on a smaller scale. Paul and Adelaide Joseph, Esmé Goldberg, the Sepels, Ben and Mary Turok, and May and Dennis Brutus were frequent visitors.”
The next generation took up the baton. Kuben, Prema’s son, was arrested for organising a demonstration during his matric year and had to write some of his final exams in jail. Today he is the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank.
Ramnie and Issy’s children, Sean and Natalya Dinat, were active in the ANC in London from an early age. Sean went for military training in the MK camps in Angola in 1984, aged 19, and Natalya graduated as a medical doctor from Patrice Lumumba University, Moscow, in 1991.
Their cousins, Thava and Nava and Subethri, were all active in the liberation struggle during the 1980s. Murthie’s daughter Zoya and Prema’s son Duggy became teachers, driven by a desire to have a positive influence on young lives in uncertain times. Subethri is a senior manager in the National Treasury.
Indres died last year, aged 79, and Prema, a Johannesburg councillor since the democratic elections of 1994, is retired as the ANC chief whip.
Emilia Potenza, the curator of exhibitions and education, said at the opening: “This is a story about choice. Every person faced the same circumstances at these points of history, but very few responded in the way this family did. Between 1908 and 1989, 21 members of the same family were imprisoned. It’s a story of an unshakable commitment to non-racialism.”
PEACEFUL MEANS: Thambi Naidoo, right, Mahatma Gandhi’s right-hand man in passive Indian resistance in South Africa.
TIES THAT BIND: Amma Naidoo with her children, from left, Ramnie, Murthie, Shanthie and Indres.
PROUD DAD: Sean Dinat and his daughter Leilah, 16, the youngest Naidoo generation.
CALL TO ARMS: A placard at the exhibition.