Tribute delivered by Mickaeel Collier – Deputy CEO Awqaf SA, 11 October 2020, Castle of Cape Town.
AWQAF SA is deeply saddened at the passing of a political activist, humanitarian, freedom fighter, community activist, and businessman, Dr. Anwah Nagia.
Our heartfelt condolences go to the extended Nagia family, as well as to his friends, comrades and fellow compatriots.
May Allah grant Anwah Jannat ul-Firdous, the Highest Heaven, ameen. May patience and peace rest with us all during this difficult time.
Anwah Nagia was an icon and stalwart of human rights; he was a person who fought bravely for the rights of the oppressed globally, irrespective of race, religion or nationality. Amongst his many colourful contributions to social justice causes, almost too many to mention here,
Anwah was the director of the Al KAAF Human Rights Centre and founder of the Palestine Museum in District Six, Cape Town.
A giant of our community has fallen! Anwah was our father, brother and comrade in arms. He had been in the trenches for over 40 years, fighting for the freedom for the underdog in South Africa, in Palestine or wherever people were suffering.
Anwah lived by the slogan of committing “class suicide”, the idea of equitable wealth redistribution, in order to ensure the upliftment of the poor. As such, he was a great friend and advisor to Awqaf SA. He actively supported our many projects geared towards poverty eradication and sustainable development.
He was an absolutely fearless proponent of societal development and the protection of the vulnerable and marginalised within our society. This was evident during the COVID-19 Pandemic when he boldly launched, through the Al Kaaf Human Rights Centre, the One Million Free Fabric Face Mask campaign, this in collaboration with Awqaf SA, Retro Active, the Black Business Council and others. Anwah was cognisant of the fact that those who were vulnerable in our society should not fall victim to the inevitable profiteering during the Pandemic, and therefore, tirelessly pursued the campaign of free face mask distributions across the country. While we mourn the passing of Anwah Nagia, and celebrate his time with us, we take solace that in the life of a freedom fighter – who lived every day to the fullest – we have an excellent example of personal sacrifice. His deep concern for humanity, his gentleness and humility is indeed a very rare
commodity in today’s world. Whilst South Africa has lost a moral voice of reason and truth – how do we comfortably celebrate and commemorate his life when the work that he dedicated himself to a great personal sacrifice is
How is it possible for life to continue as normal, when so many of our ethically conscious leaders like Anwah have passed on, and we still have to battle with the pervasive corruption that is eating away at the core of our society? Corruption not only in government but in corporate South Africa as well. How do we accept that someone like Anwah Nagia, who passionately dedicated over 40 years of his life to ensure the right of return for those dispossessed by apartheid and colonialism, has passed on?
That the issue of land, especially in the Western Cape, is the still biggest form of exclusion of the majority of our people?
Just last week we visited an informal settlement in Khayelitsha that was flooded, not due to water, but due to a broken sewer that washed into their homes. Sadly, our local authorities provided little to no assistance.
How do we accept that an elected local government, chosen to serve our people executes mass evictions a day before one of the biggest storms to hit Cape Town? Whilst at the same time issuing warnings of the severity of the storm to come! How do we continue to accept the fact that our leaders like Anwah, Steve Biko, Imam Haron and so many others, dedicated their lives to the establishment of an equitable society. Yet South Africa in a
democratic dispensation, is listed as being the most unequal society in the world? This is where the wealth of three to four people equals the collective wealth of 49% of the country. How do we continue to accept the daily realities of so many of South Africans, those who go to bed hungry – not because our country has low food production – but because those who are expected to work our fields are not able to purchase the fruits of their labour?
How do we answer a child who is begging outside a fast-food restaurant like McDonalds, or KFC, with a rumbling stomach, watching us go into the store to fill our bellies? And yet they cannot taste the food they can see and smell? Can you imagine what torture that must be?
How do we reconcile that 26 years ago, the euphoria of our first democratic elections captured iconic images of people lining up from early dawn in snaking queues, stretching for kilometres, in order to realise the expression of political freedom?
Yet in 2020, those joyfully dignified queues were contrasted by those same masses lining-up from first light, for over four kilometres in some places, for a food hamper provided by compassionate fellow South Africans through civil society mobilisation.
Where have we gone wrong as a society? What have we allowed to happen under our watch? And, therefore, whilst Anwah and other leaders will be severely missed and forever revered for their critical role in the liberation of the people of South Africa, their work is not done. Their legacies need
to be carried forward. The responsibility rests with us who are left behind, to take his work forward. Their contributions to society require us to carry on and pick up the baton that has been left for us. We need to internalise the struggle of the vulnerable in our society! We need an ideological and
moral transformation that places the moral, spiritual, and educational development of the oppressed at the uppermost of our concern.
And, so, as Awqaf SA – an organisation grounded in a sustainable National Endowment fund set up for sustainable community development – we are proud to launch the Dr Anwah Nagia Waqf Endowment Fund.
This fund will contribute annually to a bursary fund for students, set up for those wanting to conduct practical research and development on social justice issues; issues that were at the core of the work Anwah dedicated his entire life to. In this way, we hope his legacy will continue.
May Allah, the Almighty, bless Anwah with Paradise. We thank his family for sharing him with South Africa.
Aluta Continua The Struggle Continues!!!