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Prof Fatima Meer (Posthumous)

The Order of Luthuli in

Prof Fatima Meer (Posthumous) Awarded for:
Her excellent contribution to the struggle for liberation. Her gallant and steadfast opposition to social injustices for decades is commendable.
Prof Fatima Meer was born in Durban in 1928. Her political career began at the age of 17 when she was a high school student. The Indian community suffered the enactment of the first Segregation Act which restricted their economic and residential rights to specific areas in the country. The Indian community resisted by organising Satyagraha, the first since Gandhi’s Satyagraha at the close of the century.

Prof Meer mobilised high schools students and established the Students Passive Resistance Committee to canvass and raise funds for the Passive Resistance Campaign.

As a student leader she addressed a number of mass meetings during the course of the Passive Resistance Campaign, sharing the platform with the leaders of the campaign, doctors Dadoo, GM Naicker and Goonum. Prof Meer was involved in the Phoenix Settlement and was a member of its board.

In 1969 she published a book, Portrait of Indian South Africans, she donated the total proceeds thereof to the Gandhi Settlement towards the building of the Gandhi Museum and Clinic.
In the 1970s Prof Meer was involved in student and women’s politics. She was a frequent speaker opposing the apartheid system on many platforms throughout the country on anti- apartheid and religious issues.

Prof Meer also played a prominent part in bringing understanding between the communities on Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. She was a prolific writer with painstaking research on many topics analysing the human condition and cataloguing the history of South Africa.

She led rescue operations for 10 000 disadvantaged Indian flood victims of Tin Town on the banks of the Umgeni River and initiated their temporary settlement in tents, and organised relief in food and clothing. She also successfully negotiated permanent housing for them in Phoenix.

Prof Meer founded and headed the Natal Education Trust, which raised large sums of money from the Indian community to build schools in the African townships. She served as a Member of Parliament and passed on in 2010.