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01 August 2014

John Daniel: Activist, exile and a truly inspiring academic

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Professor John Daniel was an internationally respected researcher and academic who first made his mark as a young student activist, but he continued to be an inspiring mentor throughout his life.

Born in Pietermaritzburg, he earned his BA in political science from the University of Natal in 1964 while serving two terms as the president of the National Union of South African Students (Nusas).

It was Daniel’s invitation to United States politician Robert F Kennedy to visit South Africa in 1966 that forced him into exile in 1968. “Not only was I impressed with Kennedy’s speech in Jameson Hall [at the University of Cape Town],” recalled academic and labour consultant Dr Duncan Innes, who succeeded Daniel as Nusas president, “but I was even more impressed with John’s fighting speech that he gave after Kennedy had spoken. To this day, I remember the powerful impact it had on me and, truly, it changed my life.”

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Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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