Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg was moved to tears several times on the occasion of his 85th birthday celebration at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium in Parow last weekend.
While his actual birthday fell on April 11, Mr Goldberg welcomed thousands of well-wishers to the auditorium on Sunday April 15.
The event, which took the form of a music concert, was used as a fund-raiser for the Denis Goldberg Legacy Foundation’s House of Hope initiative, a centre for the arts in Hout Bay.
The large turn-out was testimony to the esteem in which Mr Goldberg is held for devoting his life to the struggle for freedom. On entering the hall, the struggle hero, wheelchair-bound due to his ongoing battle with cancer, received a standing ovation, bringing him to tears, not the first or last time that evening.
Master-of-ceremonies Gareth Lubbe, principal violist in the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, Germany, proved popular, as he interspersed humorous tales with informative anecdotes about the music on offer.
The audience was fortunate to take in the “Quartet of Peace”, two violins, a viola and a cello crafted to honour South Africa’s four Nobel laureates, Nelson Mandela, Chief Albert Luthuli, FW de Klerk and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Master craftsman Brian Lisus built the instruments in Cape Town in 2010 as a physical manifestation of the lives and work of these South Africans who shaped the destiny of the nation.
Another memorable moment was the performance of Reflections of a Life, a piece composed by South African chamber musician Matthijs van Dijk and taken from his work Moments in a Life, which draws inspiration from key moments in Mr Goldberg’s life.
Among the guests were Premier Helen Zille and tourism minister Derek Hanekom. The audience was also played a recording of an apartheid-era prosecutor questioning a young Mr Goldberg on the mixed-race parties he organised. Respectful yet defiant, he answered that he regarded anyone opposed to such meetings a bigot. This brought another huge cheer from the audience.