Professor Yousuf A Vawda
OBITUARY – Devadas Paul David was born in Pietermaritzburg in 1940 and handed on final week. He’s survived by his siblings Sinthi Qono, Vassie (Joan) Singh and Ben David; his daughters Jolene, Jasmine and Lisa, sons-in-law and several other grandchildren.
5 siblings predeceased him: Romesh David, Ronnie Peter David, Phyllis Naidoo, John (AJ) David and Matron Regina Maharaj.
In his virtually 80 years on Earth, Paul achieved an infinite quantity, greater than most strange mortals would. He labored exhausting, performed exhausting, gave generously, liked life abundantly and by no means as soon as wavered in his dedication to the liberation of the folks of this nation.
This isn’t to recommend that he was with out flaws, as he was solely human like the remainder of us.
What was the essence of Paul David? I’ve been pondering the query ever since we acquired the devastating information of his passing final Thursday. He was a lawyer, a husband and father, an achieved sportsman, a political activist, a trusted good friend and comrade, and a raconteur of notice.
Many would possibly lay declare to such an outline. What made Paul particular? To understand that, one has to know the social and political milieu by which he lived.
He was raised in a household that valued training and repair to the group. His early mentors have been his father, the educationist Simon David, sister Phyllis and brother-in-law MD Naidoo.
It was hardly stunning that he joined the political Battle whereas a teen. He mingled with the leaders of the political motion from the 1950s by way of to the 1990s.
Whereas he revered all of them, he was not awestruck by their stature, eloquence and place. Paul was a frontrunner in his personal proper, and he was rightly revered by all who met and knew him. He didn’t match the mould of the extreme, dour, typically dogmatic politician, however moderately that of everybody’s buddy.
That is to some extent due to his shut friendships with activists who belonged to all strands of the liberation motion – Congress, Black Consciousness, Unity Motion, pan-Africanists. I’ve by no means come throughout anybody who was so universally accepted and liked.
Paul was a naturally outgoing particular person, partly defined by his involvement in quite a lot of crew sports activities, as an achieved participant and as a succesful administrator. Nobody I do know had the identical capability to get together with virtually everyone. Paul was fast to attach with others, in a means that was immediately welcoming and affirming.
Paul was legendary for his public talking and facilitation abilities. As many have noticed, he was the go-to particular person for chairing conferences, giant and small. Paul learn the room brilliantly, listened respectfully and acknowledged numerous contributions to a debate. He then summarised all of the views and most frequently succeeded in presenting a consensus place.
Famend for his trademark humour, he instantly made everybody really feel comfy and valued, enabling a full of life and productive dialogue.
Such light-heartedness and witty banter can simply be misconstrued as superficiality. That was definitely not the case with Paul. Beneath that jovial exterior was a deep and profound understanding of human beings, unbounded compassion, an empathy with and an incredible capability to share the ache and deepest fears of others.
Above all, he mastered the artwork of connecting with folks at a elementary degree.
Paul was fearless. That is evident from all of the pictorial footage we’ve got been seeing over the previous few days. It exhibits Paul throughout his arrests by uniformed officers in addition to safety police of the apartheid regime.
Paul understood that the morally bankrupt “enemy” relied on instilling a mix of concern and powerlessness over detainees and political prisoners.
In these footage, Paul’s posture, facial features and gestures are distinctly defiant – unequivocally telling them: “I don’t concern you! You haven’t any energy over me!”
It was to be a singular lesson to many people going through comparable conditions.
As a scholar activist within the 1970s who had begun to attend public conferences of the Natal Indian Congress, I used to be immediately drawn to Paul’s partaking character, his excellent oratory and, in fact, his prepared wit.
Paul adopted a lot of my era of activists as youthful brothers and sisters, and earlier than we knew it, he was mentoring us, not by way of lofty treatises on Marxism and the like, however by way of his instance, his actions and his constructive outlook. We developed a beautiful friendship, which was private, skilled and political. He continuously visited Cati and me in later years when our kids have been little and excelled within the function of a favoured, jolly uncle.
In January 1987, I used to be arrested and detained underneath part 29 of the Inside Safety Act (the notorious detention with out trial clause) for participation within the underground actions of the ANC.
For 5 months, I had no contact with my household or legal professionals. It was a difficult and nerve-racking interval for me, my household, mates and comrades.
Whereas Choose Thumba Pillay was my legal professional making an attempt to safe my launch, Paul stepped into the breach and assisted in working my authorized observe, all of the whereas maintaining my household knowledgeable and reassuring them about my security.
Then after 5 months, I acquired a go to from my lawyer – Paul!
He by no means gave up pestering the safety police to allow a go to on the pretext of needing to seek the advice of with me on some pressing instances. Paul walked into an workplace on the Westville Jail with a bundle of recordsdata. For sure, we hardly mentioned the recordsdata, however within the presence of a hapless warder used coded language to trade information and messages. Once I was returned to my single cell through the post-lunch lock-up, I may hardly look ahead to the supper break to share the information with a few of my fellow detainees.
However that was to not be. In just a little underneath an hour, I used to be requested to pack up – the warrant for my launch had arrived from Pretoria, and I used to be to be launched.
Again dwelling, my household tried frantically to contact Paul who had gone from the jail to seek the advice of counsel in Durban earlier than returning to Verulam.
He in some way acquired the information, and got here to my dwelling for one more reunion. Two visits from Paul in at some point – what a deal with!
The likes of Paul David are hardly ever encountered in a lifetime. I really feel honoured to have walked alongside him.
Hamba kahle, Comrade! Lengthy dwell Paul David!
Vawda is a senior analysis affiliate on the College of Legislation on the College of KwaZulu-Natal.