BIOGRAPHICAL BRIEF OF BLOG STORYTELLER – EDUCATOR:
The aim of this blogsite is to celebrate the heritage of the descendants of Cape Indigenes and the enslaved and to provide educational stories that encourage all to go and read and learn more about our ancestors, their struggles and their ability to rise above adversity.
Patric Tariq Mellet was born and grew up in the working class districts of old Cape Town – Salt River, Woodstock and District Six. His family were poor working people from what was regarded as a grey area community of people who came to be classified during the Apartheid years, as ‘coloured’ and ‘white’ but defiantly contradicted the official segregationist paradigm and did not neatly fit into these labels. In old racist colonial terms many people in this area would have been seen as Quadroons, or in street language as “having a touch of the tar”. The common label they carried was ‘halfnatjies’.
Tariq, as he is more popularly known, is one of 13 children. He grew up in 3 foster homes, a children’s home and an industrial trades school. He first went out to work in a factory at the age of 16 having only attained a rudimentary vocational education at junior certificate level.
Tariq’s mother was single parent working as a machinist in the garment industry and as a shop attendant in laundry and dry-cleaning shop in District Six. She was a member of the SA Congress of Trades Unions aligned Laundry, Cleaners and Dyers Union.
Tariq’s father, a shoemaker at the Bally’s Shoe factory in Woodstock, had four wives and was not prominent in his upbringing. Tariq’s paternal grandfather was from a small village called Lemoenshoek near Barrydale in the Kannaland. He married a woman from District Six where they settled in 1918. Tariq’s paternal grandparents lived at No: 6 Sterling Street, District Six, where Tariq’s father was born in 1922. The grandparents had three more children and remained in District Six until 1930 after which they moved to Doornhoogte (today Rylands) and then to Bokmakierrie in Athlone, where his grandmother Elsie, a traditional healer passed away at an early age in 1939. His grandfather and children then moved to Crawford and his grandfather remarried and had three more sons.
Tariq’s maternal great-grandparents were from Cala in Xalanga district of Tembuland in the Transkei. Tariq’s maternal great-grandfather William Haddon was an Englishman who lived from 1808 to 1908 and his great grandmother Francina Haddon, was a ‘Coloured’ woman who had been born to a free slave woman circa 1830 from the Kat River settlement in the Eastern Cape. Tariq’s grandfather William Huntley was an English soldier during the Boer war, who was hospitalised in Mthatha where his grandmother was a nurse. When his great-grandfather died in Cala in 1908, his grandmother moved down to Kent Road in lower Wynberg in Cape Town, a poor enclave of people of colour, where Tariq’s mother was born in 1917.
In his early childhood, aged 4 in the 1950s when Tariq’s mother had her back to the wall she was forced to place an advert in the newspaper asking a for family to take him into their care for 2 years until her fortunes improved. Tariq had already been in two foster homes before this time. Later he spent 3 years in a cruel Dickensian Children’s Home where the children did forced labour and were at the receiving end of many tortures and beatings. Before going in the first foster home Tariq was severely burnt suffering 3rd degree burns across his upper body when at 18 months old a primus stove with boiling milk toppled over him. He required skin-grafting and spent 3 months in hospital. The poverty and conditions of his childhood and early working life could easily have pulled him down as had happened to many of his peers who landed up in gang activity and in prison. When with his mother they lived in one room, cooked on paraffin stoves, had iron basin baths, shared beds and lived pretty rough. Tariq’s mother often made ends meet by knitting and crocheting which he could sell going door to door. When he was not being fostered out Tariq’s mother would take him to her workplace in District Six and keep him out of sight when tipped off about the company inspectors visits. He remembers many lessons from his childhood days in District Six that stood him well in later life. Some simple twists of fate put Tariq on the resistance road and from that chosen path he realized a liberated life.
From an early age in the mid-1960s Tariq started a life-long interest in slavery heritage when introduced, by a nun, to the story of the 14th century Peruvian Saint of the slaves and Mulattos – San Martino de Porres, son of an African slave and Spanish soldier. Tariq’s own family tree, which he has for 500 years and includes 24 slave ancestors from Africa, India and Southeast Asia as well as locally born Creole slaves. He is also a descendant of Krotoa and three other indigene Khoena women. His ancestry further includes French, Dutch, British and other Europeans. Over 400 years at the southern tip of Africa this complex tapestry genealogy played itself out in what Tariq calls the Camissa footprint and legacy. Tariq sees his roots as being bound with the pre-colonial village of the Goringhaicona settlement on the banks of the Camissa River flowing through Cape Town, where the Khoena serviced over 1071 ships from 1600 to 1652 led by their London-trained and Jakarta-trained indigene leaders Xhore and Autshumao. The Camissa community embraced seamen from many countries, embraced slaves from Africa, India and Southeast Asia and embraced non-conformist European settlers. He prefers the non-racial heritage term ‘Camissa’ to that of ‘Coloured’ in expressing this part of his identity. Tariq is a direct descendant of his 9th great-grandmother Krotoa of that Camissa community.
Tariq has a strong and proud sense of his Camissa sub-identity as a South African and is very involved in the promotion of understanding of Cape slavery and indigene heritage. Today the younger generation of his family, as their ancestors did in the past, still cross the diverse bloodlines constituting ‘coloured’ or Camissa, – white, Indian, Cape Khoena, amaXhosa, Griqua and Nama and he has a strong pride in this heritage.
Driven by the effects of Apartheid on his family and community, and his awareness of slavery in his own heritage, Tariq also got involved in politics in his first year at high school aged 13. One of his first overt political actions was to organise a protest fast in solidarity with Fr Bernard Wrankmore at high school, in protest of the killing of anti-Apartheid cleric, Imam Abdullah Haron, in detention. This was also the first step in his journey of syncretic faith which came to embrace a mixture of Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist and Afro-Asian Shamanist animist beliefs all held together by the thread of ancestors and saints.
Tariq then went on to organise solidarity activities at school in protest against group areas, race classification, forced removals, pass laws, migrant labour conditions and denial of African trades union rights.
In 1972 Tariq was forced to leave school early (after Junior Certificate) because of economic conditions at home (his single mother was now a pensioner on a meagre state pension). He had attended the Salesian Technical High School which was subsidised by the Child Welfare Department. This school and a number of other Catholic welfare schools for the poor were given an ultimatum by the Apartheid state that they conform to being strictly race exclusive schools or face removals of subsidies. The church welfare schools one by one closed down. The year Tariq reached Junior Certificate, standard nine and matriculation was closed down and he was forced to leave school to out to work. His mother was on a state pension and they could not afford any further schooling. The whole school closed down a couple of years later and became a ‘Street children’s Project’.
As an apprentice, earning ten rand per 60 hour week, Tariq joined the J&GWU a former affiliate of the banned SA Congress of Trades Union. Later he joined the PSA while working for the Hospital Service as a junior storeman and organised protests at the Regional Hospital Stores. He was also an active member of the Catholic Young Christian Worker Movement and formed an underground ANC cell in the mid-1970s. Amongst other organisations’ Tariq was an active member of the left orientated Christian Institute which was banned in 1977 and he started the Peninsula Workers Forum in the same year. From this base he produced and edited an underground anti-Apartheid newspaper, which was banned, called ‘Young Voice’. It was re-published as ‘New Voice’ but it was also banned.
In 1974 Tariq who had grown up in a predominantly ‘Coloured’ and poor-white mixed community, where his family after the introduction of Apartheid were divided into some being classified ‘Coloured’ and some ‘White’, now faced a dilemma. Tariq saw himself as part of a community labelled ‘Coloured’ but in appearance he was a fair complexioned and Euro looking youngster. His two grandmothers were ‘people of colour’ and his two grandfathers were English and Afrikaans respectively. Among his grandmother’s siblings and his mother’s siblings there was extensive marriage across the ‘race-silo’ lines. His extended family, particularly those to whom he felt closest, were all classified ‘coloured’. Tariq’s mother, because she was not married to his father, neither had given him his father’s surname nor had given him her maiden name. Instead she changed his name to that of a former husband she had divorced at the end of the 1940s who was the father of her other children – de Goede. Tariq’s mother had told him that his father had died in a motor car accident in his infancy and would show him the spot of the accident in Salt River. Later this would prove to be a made up story. His mother had her own reasons for fabricating the story. Tariq applied for his ID book and completed the application for ‘Coloured’ identity. Like many of the other boys in the ‘grey areas’ the system was weeding out kids into the different identifications according to appearance and association. His mother’s sister, whose Indian husband had died and all Tariq’s cousins except one, hastily migrated to England to avoid further problems. This disruption of his family was a traumatic experience. Brothers and sisters ranged from pale skins, blonde hair and blue eyes with Euro looks to dark hair, brown eyes and dark skins and Indo features. The introduction of Apartheid purging on the basis of complexion colour in his childhood was a trying time for the family.
When Tariq started in his first employment it was the first time that he lived full-time with his mother and one day his ‘dead’ father turned up. The father had been giving Tariq’s mother five rand maintenance per month and she had not told him that Tariq had started working and that he was now free of the obligation. This sudden appearance of an angry father caused further upheaval as Tariq asserted his independence of both parents and after the father left again, his mother went back to presenting herself as a widow. A short period of conflict ensued wherein Tariq’s mother told the child welfare department that he had become a ‘skollie’ and was in bad company, and also wrote to the SADF saying they should take him as he needed the discipline of men in his life. This created a big problem as Tariq was still awaiting the response to his ID application.
Suddenly Tariq now was faced with making choices as a young 17 year old when as a result of his mother and father’s conflict and her letter to the Welfare Department and SADF he received a conscription notice. Tariq was already politically orientated and rejected any coercion into accepting ‘white’ classification and conscription. He thus wrote to the military and to Home Affairs stating that he was not prepared to take up arms against his people and declared himself as a conscientious objector to any form of military service and asked Home Affairs to respond urgently with his ID status. Initially they turned a deaf ear to this plea, but Tariq was determined in his challenge. After a long determined struggle over 20 months of hell he won the tug-o-war match with officialdom and the military authorities who viewed him as a bit of a madman, and he was identified as ‘other Coloured’.
When Tariq was taken to report to the SADF at the Castle in Cape Town against his will, he stated that he had previously made his position known in writing about his opposition to military service and that as far as he was concerned he did not regard himself as ‘white’ but as ‘Coloured’. He was forced to board a train to Upington to the 8th SA Infantry. There without any support he made his lonely stand. He refused to co-operate, refused to salute, and when they tried to issue him with a weapon for training as they thrust it at him he let it fall onto the ground and refused to pick it up. Soldiers crowded around him barking orders and he just kept repeating, “I am a conscientious objector – I am here against my will and I have made my position known in writing, I will not serve under arms”. They proceeded to beat the defiance out of him.
Over a few weeks the SADF tried to beat him into line and break him. Only after being admitted into the military clinic coughing blood and having lost his voice was he arrested and sent under escort to Pretoria. There again they played as though they knew nothing about his protestations and declaration of identity and objection to military service. This process carried on for 20 months repetitively.
After trying the whole pressure-procedure again in Pretoria with Tariq still maintaining his stand, he was once again arrested and this time interrogated about political beliefs and affiliations and whether he intended to leave the country. Throughout this ordeal which carried on with the same pattern of pressure, arrest and release over and over again for many months, and being sent from one area under escort to another including time on the Namibian border Tariq never once relented. In Namibia he was made a servant (batman) of one NCO and he was told that the only way that he was going home was as a sensational story in the newspapers. They said that they will tell the public he was killed by a terrorist (jou kommunis maatjies). He was also accused of transmitting information to the enemy. Every day it was the same. He was never addressed by his name. He was always addressed as Kommunis, Kommunissie or Bont Hotnot or Rooi Rus. (Communist, Little Communist, Pale Hottentot or Red Russian) It was a litany of psychological pressure and he was only 18 – 19 years old and it was a very lonely stand.
Soldier 72572118 was part of a statistic read into the parliamentary record first in 1974 as a small group of people refusing to serve under arms as conscriptees. This was long before the phenomenon of a white anti-conscription movement that was to develop in the late 1970s and 1980s. In one interrogation in Pretoria, Tariq was taken to see a museum exhibition on the war against terrorism and subjected to a black “Mr X” giving a very gruesome story-line of ANC and SWAPO atrocity. He was told to “Luister nou mooi Kommunis”. In another interrogation in Pretoria they shouted “okay, okay if you want to be a Hotnot or Kaffir so bad, then go and be one – fokken Bont Hotnot. Do you intend leaving the Republic? We think its best that you do.”
After being released by the military and now with the status of ‘other coloured’, which meant nothing to Tariq, the security police started visiting his workplace and tapping his calls and following him around. Tariq was not interested in labels and led his life as he pleased but life would not be the same again after his stand. He was also however left with uncertainty as to what the next step with the military and security police would be, so he frequently changed abode, determined that they would never get hold of him again.
Tariq had while still under military custody started listening to the external broadcasts of the ANC radio Freedom and decided to answer the call made by President Oliver Tambo calling young people join Umkhonto we Sizwe and use every means at their disposal to get training and fight the Apartheid regime. He consciously decided to join MK and made this known to the tight network he had become involved with after seeking out young comrades in the black townships during the 1976 national youth uprisings that had now loosely formed the Comrades Movement of small learning cells which also creatively engaged in resistance action. Through this Tariq made contact with the older generation of the ANC inside South Africa through contact with Matthews Huna when attending mass at the Catholic Church in Gugulethu. Tariq had earlier been influenced in the Young Christian Worker and Students movement where Lumko Huna also was influential. At that time things were just coming together again in Cape Town after many years of the ANC being fairly dormant. Everything was still a case of taking one cautious step at a time.
In 1977 Tariq trained as a mechanical engineering artisan working for a large printing factory in Epping Industria and had no choice but to join the SA Typographical Union (SATU) which had a closed-shop agreement in the industry. The union was unfortunately a conservative union which had segregated membership practices. (A, B and C – race-based branches for white, coloured and black). Tariq joined the B branch. In the 1980s Tariq in exile led a protest against SATU’s racist policies and under the banner of SACTU succeeded in getting SATU suspended from the International Graphical Federation (IGF).
During the 1970s Tariq also worked with comrades in the Churches Urban Planning Commission in running political education classes for youth at the Dora Valke centre and promoting an understanding of the ANC, socialism and why armed-struggle was the only way forward. This was all part of active underground resistance at this time. The Dora Valke sessions had been infiltrated and this led to a security police swoop, and Tariq’s friend and comrade Heather Garner was arrested. After her release she got word out to him that he would soon face the same. Tariq then went on the run, going into exile with his family to Botswana.
In 1978 he was received in exile with his family by the African National Congress mission in Botswana, and the frontline SACTU committee and SACP. He was immediately sent to the rural area of Botswana for political training with underground structures. Pete Richer, Lauren Vlotman, Marius Schoon, Jeanette Schoon, Henry ‘Squire’ Magothi, Bernard Molewa and Isaac Makopo were all part of his mentoring and training experience. Twelve MK cadres, Wankie Campaign veterans, were brought down to Botswana from East Africa to join Tariq and his former wife Maria on a special training programme at the Serowe Brigades in Botswana, while on a parallel level he continued to receive political training with Pete Richer.
Here Tariq engaged in a technical training course in printing and communications at the Serowe Brigades, Mmegi wa Dikgang as part of the larger ANC unit. From Serowe he was deployed to Lusaka to work in the DIP under the office of President OR Tambo, to establish an ANC Printing Press at Makeni. In Makeni he served on the production board of Mayibuye and VOW, and also worked on Radio Freedom.
At Makeni, Tariq underwent some basic Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) training, in the use of small arms and munitions and took the MK oath. He was issued with an AK LMG, defensive grenades and integrated into the defence duty roster for the Makeni complex along with his printing press duties.
Thus after 5 years of serving in the ANC and MK in various ways at home, in Botswana and in Zambia in 1981 he was sent to the UK, to undergo studies at the London College of Printing while working part time for the SACTU and ANC. Here he completed a Diploma in Lithographic Printing and Publishing.
Having previously been active in the union movement, Ray Alexander Simons sent instructions ahead to London that he should also be integrated into the work of SACTU and here he also worked under the leadership of John Gaetsewe, Archie Sibeko and John Nkadimeng in making a contribution.
On graduating from the London College of Printing, Tariq went into in-service training at a commercial printing press (Spiderweb Press), printing for the Labour Party and Solidarity movements dealing with Nicaragua, El Salvador, East Timor, Western Sahara, Namibia, Palestine, Kurdistan and South Africa. During that time he worked closely with liberation movements in all of those countries.
In 1984 Tariq was seconded by the ANC, to work at the International Defence & Aid Fund for Southern Africa (established by Archbishop Trevor Huddleston and Canon Collins), in supporting political prisoner’s families and others under banning orders.
From 1985 to 1990 Tariq went back into full-time service in the ANC DIP Printing Press in London with Gill Marcus and others, while also working for SACTU in Western Europe. Here he served on editorial boards of Sechaba, Phakamani, Rixaka, Newsbriefings, Umsebenzi and other publications. He also represented the movement on working trips to Spain, Greece, Cyprus, France, Netherlands, Russia, Zambia and Tanzania. Tariq played a leading part in the design team that created the ANC logo and all underground literature, as well as literature for the diplomatic and solidarity thrust. At the same time he carried out training & development programmes for ANC Youth cadres coming to study printing at the London College of Printing, mentored and guided by Cde Mzala Jabulani Nxumalo. This offered cadres political training and, training in the technical disciplines of communications, printing and publishing. A few other operatives destined for the Home Front were also sent to the press to train under Tariq.
It was while at the ANC Press in Mckenzie Street, that a small team comprising of Gill Marcus, Patti McDonald, Sello Moeti (Michael Lubisi) and Tariq Mellet (Pat de Goede) poured through submissions from the MK camps on what the new ANC logo should look like. They chose the best of these as well as the former logo developed by Thami Myele and then Patti McDonald a very talented young designer merged all of these into a unique new design and thus was born the ANC logo still in use today (with a simple latter positive adjustment removing the four spoke wheel representing the different congresses of the Congress of the People and replacing it with a Mine-Shaft Wheel). The DIP press produced around 5 million sheet runs of underground literature per year for distribution in the underground across South Africa and into the international support arena. It was one of the key strategic centres of the liberation struggle. Tariq’s identity over these years was very much “the ANC Printer” and was also known by the nom de guerre of Comrade Oscar, the nickname Zinto or just as Comrade Pat.
Tariq returned to South Africa from exile in September 1990 and went to work in the NGO sector at Grassroots Educare & Adult Education and Training Trust in Cape Town. He was also active in National Education Health & Allied Workers Union and served on the founding executive of the SA NGO Coalition. His community development focus was on the Early Childhood Development Sector, Children’s Rights, and Adult Education.
In 1996 he joined the staff of Parliament of South Africa working closely with Speaker Dr Frene Ginwala and various Chairpersons of the NCOP including Naledi Pandor, as Head of Public Relations (and protocol) managing all heads of state visits to Parliament as well as all ceremonials, public relations and public education activities. His approach to PR was firmly based in the concept of “acknowledgement and corrective action” being better than “spin” when dealing with arising negative scenarios. In 1999 Parliament sent him on a 5 state travel programme to the USA as a guest of the US State Department’s USIS programme to look at USA public participation in political processes and to look at political participation issues of minority communities – Native American, African-American and Hispanic.
In 1999 Tariq completed a Masters degree (MSC) in tourism management and development, with distinction for his dissertation looking at the challenges faced by black entrepreneurs in tourism in the Western Cape and the niche product of heritage tourism focusing on slave and indigene heritage. Having left school 27 years earlier without a full high school education he felt very proud of this achievement after years of self-education. He was the first in his family to get a higher education.
In 2001 Tariq took up a public relations, research, fundraising and development position (Director) at University of Cape Town Development and Alumni Office for 2 years, carrying out a global study on prominent UCT alumni. This published research was carried out through travelling and interviewing over 100 high profile UCT personalities in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and UK.
In 2002 Tariq with a colleague co-established the Inyathelo – SA Institute for Advancement to support Higher Education, Museums and Medical Institutions in Africa. He served as Co-founder, Trustee and Managing Director. He also carried out working tours of Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Botswana, USA, and Canada over the course of the next five years.
Among the highlights of this work, in 2003 he was commissioned by Prof Jatti Bredekamp (CEO) of Iziko Museums to complete a Business Plan for the transformation of the old Cultural History Museum into the IZIKO Slave Lodge Museum. During this time Tariq visited the lodges and castles used in the slave trade by the Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegians and English, dotted along the coastline of West and East Africa. Many were of similar construct to that of Cape Town’s Castle of Good Hope or the Cape Town Slave Lodge. In fact one even carries the same name as Castle of Good Hope in Ghana. The involvement in this restorative project on Cape Slavery Heritage was another lifetime dream fulfilled.
Tariq is well known as a heritage activist, storyteller and educator specializing in Cape Slavery studies and has run a number of popular online initiatives in this regard as well as youth heritage education programmes with a range of age-groups. In 2005 he designed and ran an 18 month long development programme for Black Entrepreneurs in Tourism supported by the Swiss South Africa Cooperation Initiative leading to the production of videos and publications promoting black tourism heritage products based on local slavery and indigene heritage.
In 2007 Tariq undertook a year-long contract with the British Charity – Absolute Return for Kids, as Managing Director of a multi-million rand programme of assistance aid to the Health sector in South Africa, around HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral roll-out and development of child services focused on child-headed households. Over the next two years he continued to work with various community development projects as an independent consultant, branded as Dibanisa Interactive – connecting People, Passion and Praxis. Since leaving the parliamentary service Tariq also continued to enjoy a good relationship with the Presiding Officers and was invited to join two advisory boards at Parliament from 2001 – 2008.
Tariq later went on to work first as Director of Immigration for the Western Cape and then as Director Port Control – Maritime and Aviation Projects in the Western Cape in the uniformed Immigration Inspectorate Law-enforcement Branch of the Department of Home Affairs. Here a big part of his job involved the combating of human trafficking and people smuggling, a growing challenge in South Africa, involving much exploitation of human beings. He also worked at the coalface of the counter-corruption drive in the department cooperating on special projects of the Counter Corruption Unit.
Tariq went into Home Affairs to contribute to the turn-around strategy of Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma with particular emphasis on counter-corruption, law-enforcement and legislation compliance.
As part of this he played a leading role in assisting Home Affairs in transforming maritime borderline security. He was the primary figure in ensuring the establishment of an Inter-agency Command Centre for Port Control in Cape Town Harbour – a first, and the re-establishment of E-Berth as an international cruise liner berth in the Port of Cape Town after over 40 years since it was demolished.
After Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma moved on to take up the position heading the AU, Tariq was asked to join the new Minister, Naledi Pandor as her Special Advisor in the Ministry. He served as such for 18 months, achieving much in bringing changes to practical management transformation and new innovations in the department.
Thereafter for the last year before retiring on pension, Tariq was asked to implement a turn-around strategy for the immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport where there was many PR problems and much corruption. He was able to make a huge difference both in identifying the problems and in beginning a process of resolution and building strong relationships with the airlines, ACSA and all other stakeholders. In June 2015 Tariq retired and went on pension to devote more time to his heritage education and research passions.
Tariq had always spent much of his free time working in the heritage field and youth development field. This is his primary passion. Amongst other things he has worked closely with Dali Tambo and the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation on a major history and heritage project set to revolutionise the heritage landscape in South Africa by bringing to life the stories of many great men and women of South Africa who have been obscured by the colonial tributary narrative. He styles himself as a heritage activist and avid history and heritage educator emphasising that he is not an academic and has no wish to engage in the narrow and highly self-protective world of local academia still dominated by a white colonial paradigm and their sense of history as a product jealously guarded as being owned by academics in this field. There has been much great research that comes out of the academic world but it is stifled by attitudes that lead to the concealing of history rather than ensuring public access and open source information.
Users of the heritage activist storytelling style have done much to popularize historical understanding and emphasise the stories of the underside of history – that which falls between the cracks. The work of a heritage activist and community teacher is no different to that of teachers in classrooms. Their task is that of conveyers of information and promoters of learning. Tariq most particularly focuses on the history and heritage of Cape Slavery and the Indigene People of the Cape. He calls this his magnificent obsession.
Tariq was also a co-founder (with his spirit-daughter Samantha Castle) and deputy chairman of Step-Up 4 Life – an avante guarde voluntary non-profit organisation working with youth development and the building of active citizenship. He also continues to be politically active in African National Congress politics as a liberation movement veteran, though on the critical fringe and champions a strong critique of what he sees as the negative and destructive era of Jacob Zuma with a radical drift toward many things that are the antithesis of what he and others of his generation struggled for under the banner of national liberation. Tariq is particularly disturbed by a lack of rolling back of poverty, a neo-colonial trend of dominance by an elite political estate, corruption, the continued adherence to the 4 ‘race’ silos in politics and little progress in uniting South Africans across the concept of ‘race’, and the resurgence of ethnicist tribalism linked to draining of state funds by self-serving elites.
Tariq considers himself to be an African Social Democrat and Liberationist Communitarian, in the left tradition. At the same time he does not see himself as a radical purist ideologue but is interested in practical politics referring to the saying of Karl Marx – “Philosophers have interpreted the world – the point however is to change the world”. Tariq is a frequent commentator in the public media on heritage and social justice issues. In 2010 he was recognised for his educational work in the heritage arena when he received Provincial honours for the promotion of intangible cultural heritage in the Western Cape. He has written extensively on Slave and Indigene heritage issues and has published LENSES ON CAPE IDENTITIES – EXPLORING ROOTS IN SOUTH AFRICA. Tariq’s full biography is covered by one of the chapter’s in his book, of which this brief bio is based. He has also written 20 mini biographies of prominent historical characters for the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation – National Heritage project.
Presently Tariq and his Thai wife Asirawan Leena Mellet live in West Beach, Bloubergstrand in Cape Town where they run a small home based project incorporating a guesthouse facility in their home, together with a traditional medicine Thai spa and a slavery heritage reflection centre. It is called Asirawan Siam Healing House & SA-Thai Slave Heritage Reflection Centre. The centre also provides a place of mental healing for activists past and present and for cadres who have opposed corruption in the state sector and been victimised for it, to come and rest and unburden themselves.
Tariq has 3 sons – Dylan Mtshali, Manuel Bram, and Vuyo Beyers Joao and 5 grandchildren – Caleb, Tyler, Arian, Celeo and Ella. He also has a stepson and stepdaughter in Thailand – Cheytta and Watsana and step-grandaughter Nongnaam. Tariq further has a very special relationship with his spirit-daughter and closest friend Samantha Castle. He continues to be proudly African, proudly part of a family of Southern African communities, and proudly Camissa. It is in this context that he celebrates being South African.