WISER and CISA invite you to a public lecture on
‘The Life and Death of Dr. Abu Baker ‘Hurley’ Asvat, February 23, 1942-January 27, 1989’
By Jon Soske (Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, Wits)
Wednesday, 19th May 2010
WISER Seminar Room, 6th Floor, Richard Ward Building
East Campus, Wits University
At the time of his murder in 1989, Dr. Abu Baker ‘Hurley’ Asvat was widely revered as ‘the people’s doctor’ based on almost two decades of medical work in Soweto and over a dozen health projects initiated across the Transvaal as AZAPO’s Secretary of Health. Yet despite his close relationship with leading ANC figures like Albertina Sisulu and his significant role in major political events, Asvat’s name rarely appears in histories of the liberation struggle and his life’s work has been almost completely overshadowed by the controversial circumstances of his death. This lecture will discuss Asvat’s biography from his childhood in the multiracial Johannesburg neighbourhood of Vrededorp to his medical study and political activism as part of a PAC-aligned student group in Pakistan; from his leading role in non-racial cricket to his emergence as a central figure in Soweto’s life and politics. This talk will also reflect on the relationship between Lenasia and Soweto as social spaces during the years of apartheid and interrogate the ways in which apartheid racial categories—particularly ‘African’ and ‘Indian’—continue to structure how South African historians represent the recent past.