Imam Abdullah Haron memorialised and celebrated in new travelling exhibition
The life and legacy of anti-apartheid activist Iman Abdullah Haron will be celebrated in several venues around the Western Cape, following the unveiling of the new traveling exhibition.
Created by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport’s (DCAS) Museum Service, the exhibition chronicles (in isiXhosa, English and Afrikaans) the life of the late Imam from his birth in Claremont in 1924 to his death at the hands of the apartheid state while in detention.
The Life and Legacy of Iman Abdullah Haron was unveiled on Thursday 12 September 2019 at the Dulcie September Civic Centre in Athlone, the same area where Imam Haron’s family was relocated after the enforcement of the Group Areas Act during the 1960’s.
Judge Siraj Desai, a Cape Town High Court judge and former Apartheid activist, was the first speaker at the event.
“Ultimately apartheid was an attack upon the dignity of all of us, and that is what Imam Haron resisted. He was an actively involved, non-sectarian, not aligned to any political party. He met the PAC, he met the ANC and he met the Non-European Unity Movement. He stood opposed against apartheid and he saw a future in which all of us participated,” Judge Desai said.
“To remember him and those who died in detention, we commit ourselves to creating a society that is fair and just and works aggressively to remedy inequity in this country.”
During his life Imam Haron regularly spoke out against the evils of apartheid during his Friday sermons at the Al-Jaamia Mosque in Stegman Road, Claremont and encouraged Muslims to support others oppressed by the apartheid regime. He also attended protest meetings in Langa, Gugulethu and Nyanga, and smuggled food and other provisions into these townships.
The exhibit was created after Cassiem Khan of the Imam Haron Foundation contacted DCAS. Khan spoke of the efficiency shown by DCAS in dealing with his request and also urged others to work with the department to ensure that important members of society are celebrated and memorialised.
Brent Walters, Head of Department at DCAS, said the exhibition would create awareness around Imam Haron’s contribution to society.
“The history of the resistance and liberation struggle cannot be complete without the recognition of the role of ordinary men and women who sacrificed so much for South Africa to be free,” he said.
“Imam Abdullah Haron is regarded as a prominent South African Muslim martyr who sacrificed his life for the freedom of all South Africans. His legacy epitomises the struggle against adversity; and resilience, tolerance and hope for a non-racial South Africa. His commitment to humanity, equality and social justice transcended boundaries of race, class, gender and religion.”
Mr Walters added that DCAS was indebted to Mr Khan, the Imam Haron Foundation and the family of Imam Haron; his wife Galiema Haron and his children Shamiela, Muhammed and Fatima.
The unveiling of the exhibition comes just weeks before the 50th anniversary of Imam Haron’s death on September 27.
Imam Haron’s gravesite was also recently declared a heritage site by Heritage Western Cape, an entity of DCAS.
The Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport works to create awareness about and celebrate the lives of important historical figures, Better Together.