Blog Post

Donald Woods archive established at Hobeni

26 July 2014

A comprehensive new archive of Donald Woods’ life and momentous career is being established at the new Donald Woods Centre at Hobeni in the former Transkei.

Meticulously curated by leading anti-apartheid activist David Kenvyn, the Donald Woods Foundation Library and Archive is the most detailed record yet of Woods’ decades-long struggle against apartheid, his friendship with Steve Biko and his subsequent persecution at the hands of the security police during the BJ Vorster regime.

The collection contains 1 102 books and well over 3 000 documents, posters, videos, audio tapes and posters, including many rare or never-seen-before items. Chief among these are hand-written notes from Bobby Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Richard Attenborough.

Kenvyn, a retired librarian, has also discovered notes from Peter Gabriel, David Bowie and Paul McCartney – the latter a music score, signed and with a personal message.

There are several box files of documents or newspaper cuttings and archives that remain to be catalogued, many of which are either articles by Donald Woods or stories about his relationship with Steve Biko, and the consequences of that relationship as portrayed in the film “Cry Freedom”, Kenvyn notes.

The Donald Woods Foundation Library and Archive will be made available to the general public as a historical and research resource, both on site and electronically for selected items.

There are also numerous novels by South African authors opposed to apartheid, whose books were banned in South Africa.

A member of the Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) National Executive, Kenvyn will be based at Hobeni until the end of the year to launch the library and archive as well as set up the on-line archive.

The Donald Woods Centre, located at the site of the old trading store where Woods was born and spent his formative childhood years, is being developed by the Donald Woods Foundation (DWF) into a multi-purpose community development centre, from where multiple health, education and economic upliftment programmes are being rolled out in the surrounding Mbashe area.

“The Foundation hopes to act as a catalyst for community growth and development to provide a sound platform in health and education to support local people in getting or creating jobs,” said Donald Wood’s eldest son, Dillon, who serves as CEO of the Donald Woods Foundation.

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