Blog Post

Donald Woods reburied at ancestral home in Transkei

Internationally acclaimed anti-apartheid activist and former Daily Dispatch editor Donald Woods has been reburied, alongside his wife Wendy and their infant son Lindsay, at Woods’ ancestral home in Hobeni in the former Transkei.

Woods, whose perilous friendship with Steve Biko was the subject of Sir Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-nominated film Cry Freedom, died on 19 August 2001, aged 67. His ashes had been interred at the Cambridge Cemetery in East London.

Following the death of his wife, Wendy, on 19 May last year, the Woods family decided to establish a family burial plot at the Donald Woods Centre in Hobeni, original site of the rural trading store where Woods was born and spent his formative childhood years.

The site has since been developed into a multi-purpose community development centre by the Donald Woods Foundation, which is rolling out multiple health and education programmes 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 eldest son Dillon Woods, who also serves as CEO of the Donald Woods Foundation.

Donald and Wendy were laid to rest alongside their son, Lindsay, who died in 1971 after contracting meningitis shortly before his first birthday. The private burial ceremony was attended by immediate family and Donald Woods Foundation staff members.

Woods was born at home in Hobeni on 15 December 1933 at the local trading store built by his father, Jack, just over 100 years ago. Donald Woods’ return to the ancestral home he loved brings full circle the Woods family’s remarkable legacy, not only in opposing oppression, but working tirelessly for the upliftment of the local community.

Both Donald and Wendy’s spirit lives on in the work of the Donald Woods Foundation, which is actively helping thousands of people in one of the poorest and most under-resourced regions in the country to access essential health care and basic education.

Through its pioneering Health in Every Hut programme, delivered in partnership with Eli Lilly, Foundation staff and volunteers have visited thousands of homesteads in the Mbashe area to do basic health assessments and peer education.

At-risk residents are referred to one of the local clinics, where DWF’s clinic integration teams assist Department of Health staff with patient flow, data capturing, mentoring and education. This has hugely impacted overall health and patient care in the region, with the Foundation able to compile a detailed, first-of-its-kind health database of every homestead in its catchment area.

“The specific design of the project in a deeply rural area with dispersed homesteads in difficult terrain is to put the most distant, abandoned, unsupported person living furthest from the clinic, down by the river, hours walk to the road – first,” Dillon says.

“From the moment they are visited and screened, they are valued and ‘live’. They are known, cannot be forgotten or left and are brought into the care network.”

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