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Two Indian-origin women freedom activists awarded South Africa’s highest National Order awards

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South African President Jacob Zuma, Wikimedia

Pretoria, 01 May, 2017: In a proud moment for India, two Indian-origin women freedom activists (Fatima Meer and Shantie Naidoo) were awarded South Africa’s highest National Order awards by the South-African President Jacob Zuma on 28 April, 2017 (Friday).

The Order of Luthuli in silver was posthumously received by Fatima Meer while Shantie Naidoo received the same award at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria.

Naidoo is a descendant of Thambi Naidoo, one of Gandhi’s most trusted lieutenants during his tenure in South Africa at the turn of the last century.

Shantie Naidoo joined 21 other people who were part of a group which suffered at the hands of the apartheid-era security police. The police tortured them and held them in solitary confinement. It is the same confinement from where Meer, a lifelong friend of the late Nelson Mandela together with her husband Ismail Meer, started her activist career as a high school student aged 17 in 1945.

At the time of Presidency Meer quoted, “The Indian community suffered the enactment of the first Segregation Act which restricted their economic and residential rights to specific areas in the country.”

Meer assembled high school students and established the ‘Students Passive Resistance Committee’ in order to canvass and raise funds for the Passive Resistance Campaign.

“The Indian community resisted by organising Satyagraha, the first since Gandhi’s Satyagraha at the close of the century,” Meer further continued.

Outshining as a historian and sociologist, Meer was a stimulating writer. Her writing masterpieces include Mandela’s biography and the script for Akbar Khan’s film ‘Taj Mahal’.

Her book ‘Portrait of Indian South Africans’ was published in 1969. Being a socially committed human, she donated the total proceeds of her book to the ‘Gandhi Settlement’ towards the building of the Gandhi Museum and Clinic at the ‘Phoenix Settlement’. Phoenix Settlement, an initiative by Gandhi is now managed and supervised by his granddaughter Ela Gandhi.

Meer passed away in 2010. Before her death, she served as a member of the parliament under the Presidentship of Mandela since 1994.

prepared by Himanshi Goyal of Newsgram

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Flamingo Chicks In South Africa In Danger Due To The Drought

SANCCOB is one of several centers across South Africa caring for around 2,000 chicks that were rescued from the dam. 

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Flamingo Chicks
A rescued lesser flamingo chick is treated by officials after being moved from a dam in the Northern Cape province to the SANCCOB rehabilitation center in Cape Town, South Africa Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

Rescuers are moving hundreds of dehydrated lesser flamingo chicks from their breeding ground at a drought-stricken South African dam to a bird sanctuary in Cape Town, to save them from death by starvation and lack of water.

Their birthplace, Kamfers Dam in the Northern Cape, is one of only three breeding grounds for the famously pink birds in southern Africa, the other two being in Namibia and Botswana, according to researcher Katta Ludynia.

The rescued chicks take three to four months to fledge, and it is not yet clear whether they will eventually be released back into the wild in Cape Town or transported back hundreds of kilometers to their home in Kimberley, she said.

Flamingo CHicks
A rescued lesser flamingo chick is fed after being moved from Northern Cape province to the SANCCOB rehabilitation center in Cape Town, South Africa, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

“There are still several thousand birds breeding in the dam in areas that still have water,” said Katta Ludynia, research manager at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). “It now depends on the water levels whether these birds will pull through.”

Ludynia said the sanctuary was caring for around 550 chicks, most of them dehydrated when they arrived Monday after having been abandoned by parents who went off in search of food.

The chicks are being moved to the sanctuary by plane and road.

Flamingo Chicks
A rescued lesser flamingo chick peers out of a box after being moved from a dam in the Northern Cape province to the SANCCOB rehabilitation center in Cape Town, South Africa Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

SANCCOB is one of several centers across South Africa caring for around 2,000 chicks that were rescued from the dam.

Also Read: A Rise in 2 degrees Celsius In Global Warming Could Cause Droughts

Although it hosts the biggest population of lesser flamingoes in southern Africa, Kamfers Dam, north of Kimberley, is often dry and depends mainly on rainwater. It also gets some water from a sewerage works that releases water into its wetlands.

“The dam in Kimberley is so important because it is manageable, so we can secure the water level there. That might be the only site the flamingos can breed in southern Africa, if the drought continues in other areas,” Ludynia said. (VOA)