Back to top

Colin Wells Eglin

The Order of the Baobab in

Colin Wells Eglin Awarded for:
Serving the country with excellence and for his dedication and courage in standing up for the principles of equality for all South Africans against the unjust laws of the past.

Profile of Colin Wells Eglin

Colin Wells Eglin was born in April 1925 to a family that knew the meaning of service. He leads a life with a clear moral compass and his conduct in service of his country has been characterised by humility. He has always firmly believed in a non-racial democratic future for South Africa, and that this goal could be achieved through negotiations. He never sought personal acclaim for his contribution towards bringing about a democracy.

In 1943, when he was called to interrupt his studies to join the South African Army that served in the Second World War, Eglin obliged and served as a soldier with the Sixth South African Armoured Division in Italy. He later became a full-time instructor in the anti-aircraft unit in Cape Town.

Eglin was also involved in establishing the Red Cross Children‘s Hospital in Cape Town, which serves the whole continent and has maintained ties with the hospital ever since.

Eglin was first elected to Parliament in 1958, but lost his seat in 1961 after breaking away from the United Party and forming the Progressive Party along with Helen Suzman, Jan Steylter and others on a matter of principle relating to the dispossession of black South Africans.

After 13 years of building the party and supporting the lone Progressive Party Member of Parliament Helen Suzman, Eglin was re-elected to Parliament in 1974 where he served until his retirement in 2004. Throughout his parliamentary career he fought to expose the inequities of the apartheid government and to reach out to the victims of apartheid outside Parliament.

He played a key role in the multi-party negotiations and was part of the team tasked to draft the interim and final Constitution of South Africa’s democracy. His life’s work was rewarded in 1994 when South Africa’s first fully democratic elections were held, and with the adoption of the final Constitution of South Africa in 1996.