Remarks: The 32nd Annual Philip A. Hart Memorial Lecture: A Journey from the Heart of Apartheid Darkness Towards a Just Society: Salient Features of the Budding Constitutionalism and Jurisprudence of South Africa
Citation: 101 Geo L.J. 749 (2013)
I have been assured that it was open to me to speak on a topic of my choice on this memorable evening. However, it quickly became plain to me that the annual Memorial Lecture has been set up to interrogate topics that were of special interest to Senator Hart.
I venture the proposition that had Senator Phil Hart lived in South Africa, he would have weighed in on the side of those who opposed the racial exclusion and social injustice of colonialism and apartheid. He would have cheered us on and backed our struggle for democracy and social justice. He would have been well pleased to see a downtrodden people taking up cudgels in order to liberate themselves. He would have well understood that it takes the solidarity of good women and men to overcome an oppressive regime. I must quickly add that had he pursued his crusades of the 1960s and 1970s in my country, like Nelson Mandela, and like me at the age of fifteen, he would have fallen foul of the retrograde orthodoxy of apartheid. Put bluntly, he would have been jailed for a few decades in that infamous prison known as Robben Island.
I therefore trust that it would be a befitting tribute to the memory of this great Michigan Democrat to tell how we are transforming our land from the heart of apartheid darkness towards our cherished, just society. To that end, I set out briefly the juridical features of apartheid shortly before its demise in 1994. This I do only to pave the way for my core concern. In broad brush strokes, I hope to trace key trends of our nascent constitutionalism and jurisprudence that have supplanted the evil apartheid legal order. As I draw close to the end, I highlight the primary challenges to our evolving democratic constitutionalism, followed by a few concluding remarks.