Reading of Phyllis Naidoo papers.

UKZN’s Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre hosted readings of selected works and letters by the late Phyllis Naidoo at an intimate gathering on the Westville campus. Those in attendance read from her books and letters and shared amusing anecdotes about her.

The life of Naidoo – an anti-apartheid stalwart, lawyer and author – is documented in an extensive Special Collection at the Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre.

The collection includes letters, photographs, press cuttings, books and previously unpublished short stories that illustrate the contribution of activists to the liberation struggle. Naidoo donated the collection to the University in 2006.

Extracts read from one of Naidoo’s books, 156 Hands that Built South Africa: The 1956 Treason Trial, highlighted her commitment to preserving the memory of those who had contributed to South Africa’s liberation. One of Naidoo’s letters to Govan Mbeki is printed on a massive wall at the entrance to Robben Island.

She received one of the country’s highest honours, the Order of Luthuli, from the former President, Thabo Mbeke, for her contribution to the struggle for democracy. An alumnus of the former University of Natal, she was the recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Durban-Westville and the Durban University of Technology.

Known for her indomitable spirit and commitment to the struggle, Naidoo died on 13 February, 2013. 

  • The annual Dr Phyllis Naidoo Memorial Lecture was recently postponed due to the unavailability of the speaker, Sophia Theresa Williams-de Bruyn. A former anti-apartheid activist, de Bruyn marched alongside Lilian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa on 9 August, 1956, along with 20 000 other women, in protest about the requirement that women carry pass books.

 Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer