A community activist, philanthropist, visionary and leader. A woman committed to promoting social cohesion.
These were some of the praises for the late anti-apartheid activist Florrie Daniels, when she was honoured at the University of Johannesburg this week. On Wednesday, 13 November 2019, UJ named a lecture hall after Daniels, in recognition of her role in inspiring people to contribute towards efforts to positively changing the world.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Florrie Daniels Lecture Hall, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UJ, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, said Florrie Daniels’ life story is one of resilience, tenacity, courage and dignity. He praised her for selflessness in dedicating her life to the liberation struggle.
“Five years on from her passing, the work of Florrie Daniels remains as relevant as it did when she started out in the 1950s. Her work led vibrant campaigns for better housing and living conditions, early childhood development and preventative healthcare. Even today, however, our nation still grapples with deep-seated inequalities,” Prof Marwala said.
“Daniels also fought for equal access to education resources and was resilient in fighting for this right, and naming a lecture hall after her is perhaps the most fitting tribute for her. I trust that the bright young minds of our students will be inspired and built on her legacy,” he said.
Professor Salim Vally, the DST/NRF South African Research Chair (SARChI Chair) in Community, Adult and Worker Education at UJ, gave insights into the life of Florrie Daniels. “Her impressive achievements, despite the ignominy of the apartheid system, included a successful campaign for a branch of the St John’s Eye Hospital in ‘Western Township’; as well as being a founding member of a committee that initiated the Westbury Clinic and the Westbury Residents’ Action Committee. The latter civic group, together with other residence associations, played a critical role in challenging the apartheid system in the 80s through the United Democratic Front.
“She was also the life force behind many community activities such as ‘Operation Winter Warm’ from 1958 and the ‘Girls’ Brigade’, which since 1965 brought colour and joy to a community ravaged by unemployment, substance abuse and gangsterism - the consequences of an apartheid legacy and continued marginalisation in the post-apartheid period,” he said.
To commemorate Florrie Daniels community projects and her relationships with the community, UJ constructed an archive in her honour.
UJ had earlier in 2015 awarded Florrie Daniels a ‘Certificate of Recognition’ for outstanding contributions to the empowerment of women and society.