In this issue of our journal, ACCORD wishes to pay its deepest respects to former Advisory Panel member Professor John Daniel, who passed away in July of this year. Over the course of seven decades, Professor Daniel made immense contributions to South Africa as a political activist, academic, researcher, lecturer, editor, and mentor. However, it was the warmth, joviality, and inspirational passion through which he wore all of these different hats that will be remembered most fondly.
As president of the National Union of South African Students in 1966, John Daniel was instrumental in arranging US Senator Robert Kennedy’s tour to South Africa, which included an unprecedented tour of Soweto and a personal meeting with African National Congress President Chief Albert Luthuli in Groutville, KwaZulu-Natal. Professor Daniel spent close to two decades living in exile from South Africa. After completing his Ph.D. in 1975 in the USA, he lectured in Swaziland for close to ten years. From 1985 to 1991, he served as the Southern African editor for Zed Publishing in London. Upon his return to South Africa in 1991, he was appointed as a senior lecturer, first at Rhodes University and later at the University of Durban-Westville. Crucially, Professor Daniel was seconded to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 1997 to 1999, where he played an important role in drafting the Commission’s final report. From 2001 to 2006, Professor Daniel served as the Research Director for the South African Human Sciences Research Council, and from 2007 to 2010 he directed the School for International Training’s exchange programme for American students in Durban.
Beyond the details on his C.V., Professor Daniel’s impact remains immeasurable. Throughout his life, he held firm to his convictions on social justice, integrity, and political accountability. His critical and rigorous writings helped anchor progressive academia throughout the anti-apartheid struggle, and were instrumental in defining the political sciences field in the new South Africa. His passion for learning and mentorship shaped the worldviews of thousands of students who passed through his classroom doors. His legacies, captured by both his academic work and by the unbreakable and inspiring relationships he built, will resonate for many years to come.