Freedom Day Message from PEN SA President, Nadia Davids

23 Apr 2019
Freedom Day Message from PEN SA President, Nadia Davids

The 27th of April 2019 marks 25 years of democracy in South Africa. At PEN SA we find ourselves thinking carefully not only about the urgencies of present and future freedoms, but also about our country’s past. For the last few weeks our research team has been reading about and talking to writers who were imprisoned under Apartheid rule, artists who were jailed for their beliefs, punished for their work, sequestered from the world, at best subject to extreme harassment, at worst tortured, but who wrote nonetheless, each word an act of astonishing resistance, each sentence inching us closer towards collective freedom.

In this issue, we ask Justice Albie Sachs and Mandla Langa – South African writers who were jailed under the Apartheid regime – to share their thoughts about the relationship between art and activism and the importance of organisational solidarity. We’ve paired their insights with a brief biography, created in-house by PEN SA.

We are deeply grateful to them both for their generous and inspiring participation in this issue; these profiles inaugurate a longer-term PEN SA project that focuses on South African writers who have suffered political imprisonment. Our aim is to attend to a large and gaping gap in the public archive by developing an accessible online resource about these South African writer-activists. Our short biographies will later be twinned (where possible) with an in-depth interview with each writer about their work and imprisonment.

While our researchers are working to assemble as many names as possible, we welcome input from our members. Please do contact us at any point with a writer you believe we should profile. We welcome all suggestions and leads!

A joyous and meaningful Freedom Day to you all.

Nadia Davids
PEN SA President