Sunday, June 26, 2005

Albie Sachs - an inspiration

'Mrs Grootboom decided she had had enough.' So began Albie Sachs' illuminating speech at the Inaugural Human Rights Lecture last Thursday in the Law Society of Ireland.

The sun was shining down, and the hall was stuffy, but a pin didn't drop as the audience hung on Albie's every word. This man, who had been held in solitary confinement, had lost his arm due to a bombing, spoke from the heart about how each human's dignity should be preserved.

His stories, those of real life cases taken to the supreme court in the new South Africa, were of women in shanty towns, an intelligent man who wanted nothing more than to get a job that was rightly his, but he was denied due to his HIV status. He spoke of mothers, who wanted access to drugs that would lower their unborn babies likelihood of being born with HIV by 20 per cent.

And always he spoke from the heart. His attitude to drafting the initial version of the South African bill of rights, was to sit at a large bare table, devoid of papers, and to write, for as he said, these rights should be obvious, should come from the heart.

The world is not a dead, cold place, when people like Albie Sachs are here to voice love and hope into the wilderness. Dublin was honoured to receive such a noble guest this week.

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