We are very sad to read of the passing last week of Patrick Harries in Cape Town at the age of 66 from a heart attack. Harries in his retirement returned from Basel to UCT in 2015 as Emeritus Professor of History. At the time of his death, he was busy developing a large database on liberated Africans.
The Sunday Times obituary attributes the advancement of the internationalisation of African studies to Harries’ role at the University of Basel where it states, he wasted no time “in establishing African history as a serious discipline” and “made it the hub of a network of Africanists”.
Harries, the tribute explains, was in the forefront of a movement of radical historians and promoted the understanding that Africans were agents of their own history. The obituary mentions that he supervised more than 30 MAs and 15 PhDs. Amongst the PhDs awarded at the centre, was that of our colleague Rita Kesselring’ who worked with Khulumani over several years to study the embodiment of victimisation and possibilities for redress through the law / litigation. This thesis is shortly to be published as a book with a foreword by Emeritus Archbishop Tutu’s daughter, Mpho.
Harries, the obituary explains, delved deeply into the archives of the activities of Swiss missionaries in Southern Africa. In how writing, he pays special tribute to Henri Junod who standardised the Shangaan language.
Khulumani joins in mourning the passing of Harries whose major book, “Work, Culture and Identity: Migrant Labourers in Mozambique and South Africa, c 1860 – 1910” contributed to the understanding of the modern evolution of Southern Africa.