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Mr Omar Badsha

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Silver
Mr Omar Badsha Awarded for:
His commitment to the preservation of our country’s history through ground-breaking and well-balanced research, and collection of profiles and events of the struggle for liberation.
Mr Omar Badsha, a second generation South African, is an award-winning and self-taught artist and photographer, political and trade union activist, author, editor and historian. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of South African History Online (SAHO), which hosts a not-for-profit history website, and an educational and publishing non-governmental organisation (NGO). Badsha founded SAHO in 1999, which focuses on the neglected area of the country’s liberation history. Many people locally and internationally – including students, academics, media organisations and the general public – frequent the popular site.

Under his stewardship, SAHO won two prestigious awards in 2009, namely the South African NGO Coalition’s 2009 NGO Web Awards in the category of Best Use of Social Web. Badsha’s interests in art and involvement in anti-apartheid political activities started while he was still a high school student. He once worked as a clerk in a supermarket and a labourer in the building and printing industries. He became a member of the Natal Society of Arts in the late 1960s, and also worked part-time in its gallery as an assistant to the then curator as well as hanging of exhibitions. In 1965 and 1969 respectively, Badsha won major awards at the Art South Africa Today exhibitions.

He played a leading role in South Africa’s liberation struggle. He became politically active following the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre. He was an active member of the Durban Students Union and was elected its Assistant Secretary. He was in the forefront of major anti-apartheid campaigns in the then Natal and the Western Cape for close to 38 years. He was subjected to detention and harassment at the hands of the notorious security police. He was denied a passport for close to 25 years.

In the early 1970s, he was one of a small, yet influential group of activists instrumental in reviving the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) and the progressive trade union movement in the then Natal. As a trade unionist, he was active in the General Factory Workers Benefit Fund and in the establishment of the Trade Union Advisory and Coordinating Council, which was the forerunner to the present-day trade union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Badsha was also responsible for organising workers in the chemical industry, and established and served as the first secretary of the Chemical Workers Industrial Union.