KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala recalls late Struggle stalwart Swaminathan Gounden as a beacon of hope and unity in diversity
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DURBAN - ANTI-apartheid Struggle stalwart Swaminathan Gounden was described as “a towering figure in the Struggle for an equal South Africa” by Premier Sihle Zikalala.
He had been delivering his eulogy virtually at the special provincial government funeral held for Gounden at Clare Estate Umgeni Hindu Crematorium in Durban on Thursday.
He also described him as a beacon of hope and unity in diversity.
“In his memory, KwaZulu-Natal, the province that he cherished, must rise again. We must again weave our social fabric such that we nurture patriotism, moral regeneration and ethical values – the building blocks of a model citizen. The forces of destruction and division translate into the forgetting of ourselves – forgetting the fact that freedom and our common nationhood is a product of (the) Struggle.”
Gounden was born in 1927 in Durban and in 1950, he joined the ANC. He was one of the last remaining people who were elected delegates from KwaZulu-Natal in the 1955 People's Congress in Kliptown, where the Freedom Charter was enacted.
“He dedicated his life to the attainment of the demands of the Freedom Charter and the attainment of democracy on the basis of one person one vote which was a key demand from the thousands of demands that had been collected throughout the Congress of the People campaign, which spanned nearly two years,” said Zikalala.
Gounden also took part in the 1946 Passive Resistance Campaign, the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the UDF’s founding conference of 1983.
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Economic Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Ravi Pillay, said Gounden was the pride of the South African Indian community.
“Comrade Swami’s life story in many ways reflects the inner core, the defining noble essence and character of the South Africans of Indian origin... in the course of time there have been and continues to be narratives that seek to define it differently and stereotype it to serve some or other narrow and opportunistic agenda.
“On the other hand, it is a life to be hailed and for everyone to be inspired – young people especially – and renew the struggle for everything that Comrade Swami stood for.”
Ravi said the events of the July unrest were a painful reminder to Gounden of the divisive project of the apartheid regime.
Gounden’s son Vasu referred to his late father’s disappointment in the July unrest and remembered him for his dedication and selflessness.
“My father respected everyone; all were equal in his eyes. This is why he was deeply affected by the July unrest, which led to the division we see in our society.
“We will remember his selfless dedication to his family and community the most,” he said.