Durban - Former uMgungundlovu District Municipality mayor Yusuf Bhamjee says that he was humbled to receive the Andrew Mlangeni Green Jacket from the Struggle icon himself in recognition for his services to sports activism at the KwaZulu-Natal Sports Awards at the weekend.
The Special Green jacket Award is handed by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to South Africans who have made a huge contribution on South African sports but their efforts were shunned by the apartheid regime.
Mlangeni, now 94 years old, was a Rivonia Trialist and was imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki. He is the oldest surviving Robben Island apartheid prisoner.
Bhamjee, who was a South African 100-metre sprint champion, a cricketer and bowler, said that the award had been made possible by a wide range of people who “got me to grow in sports and as an activist”.
“I dedicate it to all those who helped in my development. We grew up in a period where one could not play normal sports, we played because the society in which we lived was very abnormal because the apartheid regime denied us the opportunity to excel in our talents and to participate amongst all South Africans,” said Bhamjee.
He also credited the influence by his generation’s political seniors who had set him and countless others on the path to being awake to the political, economic, social and sporting injustices injustices in society.
“In that way, we were given the opportunity to get involved as activists on all fronts and the sporting front to fight for a non-racial sports atmosphere but at the same time to try and fight for the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa that was inspired by the Freedom Charter and the ANC,” Bhamjee said.
He added that he felt “very fortunate” to have received the award from one of South Africa’s Struggle icons Mlangeni.
“For him (Mlangeni) to put the jacket onto me himself was a very proud and humbling experience that I will remember for many, many years,” Bhamjee said.