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Africa: Obituary – Frene Ginwala, First Speaker of the Parliament of Free South Africa read full article at

I met Frene Ginwala, who was outlined to develop into the primary Speaker of the Parliament of a democratic South Africa (and who has simply died aged 90) first in Dar- Es-Salaam, Tanganyika, in June 1962.

I’d simply attended the primary Convention of African Writers held at Makerere College, Kampala, from June 11-17 of that yr.

I used to be 25 years outdated, and stuffed with that zest of youth that welcomed each chance of journey as heaven-sent. So, having taken up the editorship of the Ghana version of Drum Journal for simply over a yr (Drum was based in South Africa in March 1951 however quickly sprouted editions in Ghana and Nigeria, in addition to East and Central Africa; by 1962 , it was the essentially the most well-known journal in Africa) my sense of gogogogo! was appreciable!

Now, even earlier than going to Drum, I had developed a really eager curiosity within the political scenario in the remainder of Africa, throughout my years as a information editor on the Ghana Broadcasting System. However, in fact, there was no cash on the GBS to journey to the locations in Africa that we broadcast about!

However now, there in my palms had come a ticket that might take me to Kampala, Uganda, and again. I sought out a really competent Journey Agent, and along with his assist, transformed my ticket into a really complicated, however cheap, one that might allow me to go from Uganda to Kenya, then to Northern and Southern Rhodesia, (as colonial Zambia and Zimbabwe have been known as on the time), in addition to to Nyasaland (now Malawi.)

I had a whale of a time in Kampala, however the place that I used to be dying to go to was Kenya. For in Kenya lived Africa’s biggest hero of the time, Jomo Kenyatta. Mr Kenyatta, chief of the Kenya African Union, had been imprisoned for nearly ten years in 1952 by the British colonialists for allegedly main an armed battle by Kenyan African nationalist known as “the Mau Mau rebellion”.

The Africans solely needed to take again their lands forcibly seized by white settlers. However the British used their superior arms to repress the revolt mercilessly.

However in 1961, the British had caved in and launched Mr Kenyatta. Now an Honourable Member f the Kenya Parliament, he was ready within the wings to develop into Prime Minister!

I needed an unique interview with him, and had organized from Accra to see Mr Tom Mboya, a lieutenant of Mr Kenyatta’s about acquiring one. (Mr Mboya was receptive to the concept, as a result of he had obtained an excessive amount of publicity, not least from GBS Information, the place I labored, when he was elected chairman of the well-known All-African Folks’s Convention that occurred in Accra in December 1958.

In Nairobi, I did get a pleasant interview with Mr Kenyatta, , after which flew to Dar-Es-Salaam. I discovered the place bustling with intense exercise, all aimed toward liberating Africa. The Mozambican African chief of the time, Edouardo Mondlane, was based mostly there, and I interviewed him. But additionally there have been many South Africans who had needed to flee into exile, following the Sharpeville bloodbath of 21March 1960. What I believed have been my “discreet” enquiries about who might prepare for me to go to South Africaclandestinely, led me to the doorways of an Indian girl known as Frene Ginwala.

I went to see her in a pleasant little home she had in Dar-Es Salaam. I did not comprehend it then however she had finished enormously heroic work on behalf of the African Nationwide Congress (ANC) after the battle towards apartheid was intensified, following the Sharpeville killings. As a lawyer and a journalist, sshe was so dedicated to the ANC that she used her cowl to chauffeur a number of of the organisation’s leaders across the nation to boost funds for many who wanted to be secretly housed, whereas in hiding from the police, or to flee into exile.

It was Frene’s valiant efforts that enabled the deputy president of the ANC, Mr Oliver Tambo, to flee to Tanganyika, by the use of Bechuanaland (now Botswana).

For all her heroic actions, Frene was as cool as a cucumber. Once I advised her {that a} colleague at Radio Ghana’s Swahili part had promised to get me an interview with the Tanganyika chief, Mr Julius Nyerere, however that no-one in Mr Nyerere’s workplace appeared to have heard of me, she calmly picked up the cellphone and spoke to “Julius” gently however straight about my drawback. “Julius” requested her how lengthy I might be within the nation for, and when he was advised that I might be there for less than a couple of week, expressed his remorse that he couldn’t see me inside such a form interval. I have to say I used to be impressed with Frene’s gravitas!

What about my proposed secret go to to South Africa? I advised her I had written to the workplace of Prime Minister Verwoerd from Nairobi and had been advised that my go to couldn’t be “permitted”! However I needed to go all the identical.

Frene laughed [at my stupidity?] however mentioned she would see what she might do. Apparently, one of many apartheid regime’s many spies among the many exile group bought wind of my plan and reported it to his bosses in Pretoria, for once I returned to Ghana, one journalist colleague who had contacts with all method of doubtful folks, advised me that “the South African secret police were waiting for you to come there. They would have tried you as a spy sent by Kwame Nkrumah spy and executed you! ” I thanked my God that my plan did not work out.