South Africa: Sharon Ekambaram - a Versatile Activist With a Rebel Spirit


A singular title or position doesn't cover Sharon Ekambaram's activism. She can't help but continue to have many fingers in many pies. There's a reason: unfinished business.

Red nail polish - that would be Sharon Ekambaram's kryptonite. Ekambaram is the real-life superhero you've probably never heard of because the social justice activist "just gets on with things" - and nail polish would be irksome, as would the label of "superhero".

It makes collaring the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) programme manager for refugees and migrants difficult.

After 1976, a teenaged Ekambaram growing up in Pietermaritzburg says she could not unsee or unfeel the tension and impacts of a repressive government hellbent on entrenching deeper apartheid divides. Schooling was severely disrupted for black children, a tricameral Parliament was coming into being to make racially tiered governance a reality and violence was tearing through homes and communities with rising death tolls.

"Maybe it was just the time I was born in and the deep impact Steve Biko and black consciousness had on my life," she says.

It was a time of ideas - also for contesting ideas and, as she notes, an absence of the ANC....

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