Constitutional crisis? Meet the man who wrote the book
Albie Sachs is one of South Africa’s great freedom fighters – quite an achievement considering the heroes of our past. His commitment to opposing injustice goes back to his childhood, when he first encountered segregation. Sachs grew up to spend the rest of his life pushing back against oppression. “There were many whites and some black people who felt ‘What the heck are you doing fighting for the black people?’” he says. “My answer was ‘I’m not fighting for the black people, I’m fighting with the black people for my own soul’.”
Sachs’ penchant for resistance almost got him killed. By the time he entered university to study law in the 50s, the apartheid government controlled South Africa, ruling through division. Through the law he hoped to fix his country, but, like many in the struggle, Sachs was forced into exile after being jailed for activism. After earning his PhD in England, he settled in Mozambique, where an apartheid-government car bomb almost claimed his life in 1988.
Sachs lost his right arm that day, as well as the sight in his left eye. His body was damaged, but not his resolve, and he would return home in 1990 to serve on the Constitutional Committee. While helping to write the new constitution, he was appointed by Nelson Mandela as a Constitutional Court judge in 1994, serving until 2009. Decades after deciding for himself that racial division was wrong, he wrote the roadmap to our unity becoming a reality.