Thu | Aug 17, 2017

South Africa remembers Peter Abrahams with pride

Published:Monday | February 13, 2017 | 2:00 AMChristopher Serju
Abrahams

Peter Abrahams' invaluable contribution to national and regional development through journalism is a matter of record, but his work and worth is also well recognised in South Africa, which he fled at the age of 20 in 1939, settling in Jamaica in 1956.

"People of his generation knew his work very well and we have actually been hearted by the outpouring of grief and messages of condolence, and an official South African message of condolence is still being drafted, which will be delivered trough the appropriate channels," Jongikhaya Rabe, first secretary with the South Africa High Commission to Jamaica, disclosed last Thursday.

Rabe, who read the second lesson during the thanksgiving service for the late journalist, held at the Church of the Transfiguration in Meadowbrook, St Andrew, offered some insight into the impact of Abrahams' work.

"We had apartheid, though of course it was not apartheid at the time. It was something that was called 'colour bar' and, of course, when he passed away many South Africans knew about his work, especially those who lived through a time when his book Mine Boy was written. It was actually part of a reading staple in South African schools, in the curricula," he told The Gleaner.

The novel, penned by Abrahams in 1946 chronicled the stereotypes and state-sanctioned discrimination against working-class black Africans in South Africa, it offered insight into the deplorable conditions under which blacks lived and worked.

 

...Murder hard on journalist's friends, relatives

For 50 years, Peter Abrahams took refuge in Jamaica and during that time built a well-deserved reputation, as his top-class work made him a standard-bearer in journalism. Abrahams, 97 was found dead at his home on Wednesday, January 18, and a post-mortem concluded that the blunt-force trauma injuries which caused his death were deliberately inflicted.

Investigators have since classified his death as a murder, which was particular hard for friends and relatives of the great man.

 

RESPECTED JOURNALIST

 

"We, just like everybody else, learnt on the 18th of January about his passing away and we were shocked at the nature and circumstances. But we are heartened that he seems to have actually contributed so much to the development of Jamaica in a literal sense. In the sense that he was a respected journalist, and, of course, he was brought up in South Africa at a time when race relations in South Africa were at their worst," Jongikhaya Rabe, first secretary with the South Africa High Commission to Jamaica, said.