Ernie Lennert: A revolutionary teacher remembered by his former students
Cape Town - Friends and family of former education and anti-apartheid activist Abraham Elias “Ernie” Lennert paid their last respects to the education activist at his memorial service in Goedverwacht on Saturday morning.
Lennert, who died at the age of 88, was a celebrated member of the Non-European Unity Movement, the Teachers’ League of South Africa and the New Unity Movement.
However, according to his friends and former students, he was more popular for the years he spent teaching Afrikaans to learners in the Eastern Cape and Cape Town.
He was survived by his wife, Josphine, and their two children, Dimitri and Varinia, as well as his grandchildren.
Since his passing, Lennert’s former colleagues, students and friends have shared some of their experiences of having known him over the years and while he was a prominent activist.
One of his former students, Judge Siraj Desai, said: “He was my Afrikaans teacher at Trafalgar High School; one of the finest teachers in that era. He not only represented the golden years back then, but he also succeeded in instilling a broader education vision in his students.”
Yusuf Chukte said: “I grew up in Elsies River during a time when he was a prominent leader within the community. Widely known and influential, Lennert played an instrumental role in implementing and uplifting the most vulnerable of people during his time, and I think that was what drew people in. He not only spoke of but fought for equal education and the rights and freedom of workers.
“The memorial service was a service where we celebrated some of his greatest achievements, and we heard some of his values and beliefs that made him a great man throughout his life, and it was amazing to take that all in again. He will be missed.”
Anton Lategan said: “Lennert was such a great person, that one would immediately become aware of his extraordinary presence and his impact. You would have become aware not only of his intellectual acumen.
“His passion was to contribute to creating a better world than the one he entered. This is why he was tirelessly working to bring about real fundamental and socialist change in South Africa. South Africa has lost a staunch fighter for true political and economic freedom, for justice, and equality.”