Royal Society honours island sociologist

September 26, 2014

“The couple’s courtship was conducted in secret as the law under apartheid regime forbade association between those of European descent…and East Indian or black African background.”

Journalists are often accused of making mistakes. Believe me, I have lost sleep often fretting about whether my articles have been accurate. Sometimes the biggest culprit can be that the person who is being interviewed, the expert or the publicist/communications officer connected to the event provides incorrect information.

The following article that I hope the reader will agree is a very interesting look at South African politics might have never been written if not for a big error in communications.

Read on:

Gulf Islands Driftwood – Pender Edition
August 2, 2000
Royal Society honours island sociologist
by Tanya Lester

Dr. Heribert Adam has not been named to the Order of Canada as reported in last week’s Penders Edition. But for his contributions to ending South African apartheid he probably should be.

Instead, the Simon Fraser University professor has been inducted into the Royal Society of Canada. Each year 400 people are nominated to the Royal Society’s Humanities and Social Sciences section. This year Adam was among 20 elected to be named to the society.

The political scientist and sociologist said confusion with the Order of Canada arose because the Royal Society, an independent group dedicated to academic excellence, announces its inductions at the same time that Order of Canada recipients are named.

Adam’s interest in South African politics solidified with a love affair. The recipient of his amour is now his life partner, Dr. Kogila Adam-Moodley, who teaches at the University of British Columbia.

The couple’s courtship was conducted in secret as the law under the apartheid regime forbade association between those of European descent — Adam was from Germany — and East Indian or black African background. Adam-Moodley is of East Indian ancestry.

The two met at the University of Cape Town in 1967 (where Adam still works in the Master of Arts program as a visiting professor two months out of the year) when he was invited to speak to his future wife’s students.

In the public sphere, Adam was part of an academic circle that organized conferences to bring together leaders in the then-banned National Congress and the former South African government. The conferences were intended as a forum to “fight politically instead of fighting with arms.”

Adam, who specializes in South African politics and ethnic conflicts as well as race relations, helped negotiations between black South Africans and Afrikaaners at the historic Dakar meeting in 1987.

It started for Adam when he wrote papers outlining the similarities between the two conflicting groups. He pointed out, for instance, that both sides were interested in economic growth but that attracting investment was an impossibility as long as the conflict continued.

While in prison, Nelson Mandala, the father of the anit-apartheid movement and the former South African president, read one of Adam’s many books. That particular one is titled South Africa Without Apartheid.

Adam and Adam-Moodley decided to move to Canada because discrimination and bloodshed did not appeal to them and Adam-Moodley wanted to continue her university career in an English-speaking country.

Adam said they knew “not a soul” when they arrived in Vancouver in 1968. Three years later, they bought their Pender property, where they spend weekends.

Clam Bay Farm was the site of a conference they held in North Pender in 1996. It was attended by 30 academics, including the South African ambassador to Washington, D.C. They gathered to discuss issues around solving conflicts while using the South African situation as a model.

Anyone interested in learning more about the present-day South African situation might like to read two-time Booker Prize winner John Coetzie’s “riveting novel” called Disgrace. Adam said his account is more realistic and less politically correct than Nadine Gordimer’s, another renowned South African writer.

To read the earliest posts to this blog, go to
Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Google.
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Readerby Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or go to the title and author name to read the first few pages or buy it at
Tanya Lester’s other books include Dreams & Tricksters, Friends I Never Knew and Women Rights/Writes. These books are available in some library systems and elsewhere.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s