Back to top

Professor Ismail Mohamed (Posthumous)

The Order of Mapungubwe in

Professor Ismail Mohamed (Posthumous) Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the field of Mathematics and political liberation. He is recognised for his work in advocacy and profound leadership skills both politically and academically.
Profile of Professor Ismail Mohamed (Posthumous)

Professor Ismail Mohamed was an epitome of a balanced academic who successfully managed to deal with abstract subject matters of mathematics and the stark political reality faced by South African masses due to political injustices prior to democracy.

His selfless work stretches over five decades both politically and academically. Prof Mohamed read and completed his PhD Mathematics in Group Theory at the University of London in 1961. His work has been published in many prestigious journals including Journal of Algebra and Journal of London Mathematical Society.

In 1968, Prof Mohamed together with Professor Heineken solved an outstanding problem in Group Theory and stimulated new areas of mathematical research. He became a globally known and respected figure in mathematic circles. In the middle of all this time-consuming work, Prof Mohamed faced personal hardships, as he was actively involved in the activities of the liberation struggle.

His mother played a significant role in influencing Prof Mohamed’s involvement in politics. His work in the liberation movement began in all earnest in his second year of university when his mother became an active member of the Garment Workers’ Union. Prof Mohamed was detained without charge or trial in 1976. He was then charged for treason in 1985 in Durban. Threats and looming danger did not stop him from giving a controversial talk in 1986 at Rhodes University’s Academic Freedom Lecture, and a paper on Rights and Concerns in Conflict in South Africa at the National Assembly of Sciences in Washington DC in 1987.

Prof Mohamed’s life and that of his family was under scrutiny by the security police. He seamlessly integrated his scientific orientation and made it work in advancing political freedom in South Africa. His contributions in Parliament include his work in the Green Paper in Science and Technology; securing funding for the field of Science and Technology and he was chairperson of the sub-committee on Science and Technology.