A Conversation with Albie Sachs

June 10, 2013

(Flickr: Heinrich Boell Foundation South Africa)
While in Chicago, Albie Sachs visited Access Living, where he gave a public talk about his experiences with the anti-apartheid movement and his insight on the state of South Africa today, with a focus on disability rights.
 
Born in South Africa in 1935, Albert Louis Sachs has committed his life to recognition, enforcement and preservation of human rights for all people. Sachs earned a law degree at the age of 21, with which he defended mostly black clients, and others accused of rejecting repressive security laws. After multiple imprisonments for resisting apartheid, Sachs went into exile in 1966. He lived in England for 11 years before moving to Mozambique, which had just overthrown Portuguese colonial rule. In Mozambique, Sachs developed a close working relationship with Oliver Tambo, the President of the African National Congress, and continued his fight against apartheid. In 1988, while still in exile, he was nearly killed by a car bomb, which took his right arm and the sight in his right eye.
 
After 24 years of exile, Sachs returned to South Africa after apartheid fell in 1990. He was appointed to the Constitutional Committee, on which he helped craft the new constitution, which included provisions ensuring inclusion of rights of people with disabilities. As a member of the committee, Sachs became a persuasive advocate for a Bill of Rights and an independent judiciary. After South Africa’s first multiracial elections, Nelson Mandela appointed Sachs to the country’s new Constitutional Court. While Sachs served, the court abolished the death penalty and overturned laws criminalizing homosexuality. In 2005, Sachs wrote the opinion in the landmark decision Home Affairs v. Fourie, legalizing same-sex marriage in South Africa. Sachs was also deeply involved with the development of the new Constitutional Court building, built on the site where Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi had been imprisoned. The Court building has won international acclaim for the integration of artistry.
 
This event is presented by the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media Columbia College Chicago, and by Access Living.
 
Recorded live Monday, June 10, 2013 at Access Living.