An unsung NRI educationist gets his place in sun
Narayanswamy Rathinsamy, a veteran South African Indian was recently honoured for community service.india Updated: Sep 22, 2005 11:52 IST
A veteran South African Indian educationist who taught three generations of students has been honoured here as an unsung hero for providing decades of service to the community.
Narayanswamy Rathinsamy was this year's awardee when the Gujarati community's Shree Bharat Sharda Mandir School (SBSM) held its annual function called "To Honour Those That Serve".
Each year the school singles out an unsung hero from a variety of fields.
Rathinsamy served as principal of the Nirvana High School in Lenasia for more than three decades after becoming one of the first educationists in 1955 in the area where the Indian community of greater Johannesburg was resettled under the apartheid-era Group Areas Act.
He taught three generations of local residents who are now active in a variety of academic, business, political and other areas all over the world.
But for many years, Rathinsamy himself did not have the privilege of travelling abroad because he was denied a passport, his daughter Yasmeen Sooka, a member of the South African Human Rights Commission, recounted.
"My father was closely watched by the police's Security Branch at the time. When there was a meeting with the ANC in exile in Lusaka, he was one of those who was asked to go, but he was unable to because they would not give him a passport."
Rathinsamy was lauded by many speakers who had passed through his hands as an example in leadership and development that could be used in the new South Africa.
Besides being highly respected for his academic and sporting contributions, Rathinsamy served on numerous community organisations.
"Despite being viewed by many as an idealist, Rathinsamy never imposed his will on any others, nor was he intimidated by the unjust segregated education system imposed at the time," said Rakesh Daya of SBMS.
"He was outspoken in his quest to better the lot of the underdog in our community in education and sport, so it is not unexpected that he was unanimously nominated to be the recipient of this year's award for his loyalty and dedication in serving the community."
In his typically humble style, Rathinsamy would only say briefly as his acceptance speech that he was "overwhelmed" and thanked the school for the award.