In memoriam: Prof Fatima Meer
A close friend of Mr Mandela for over 60 years
March 13, 2010 – On behalf of our Founder, our Board and Staff, the Nelson Mandela Foundation sends heartfelt condolences to the family of Professor Fatima Meer, who passed away yesterday afternoon. She was 81.
Prof Meer, who has been a close friend of Mr Mandela and his family for more than 60 years, was an academic and a stalwart of the struggle against apartheid.
The Durban-based sociologist was married to one of Mr Mandela’s close friends and comrades, Ismail Meer, who passed away in 2000.
Prof Meer published Higher than Hope, an early biography of Mr Mandela, while he was still in prison. In the latter years of his imprisonment she sent him drafts of her manuscript for correction. After interest was expressed in a film version of the book she suggested to Mr Mandela that he be played by Sydney Poitier, to which he agreed, adding however, that he was not sure that the American actor would accept the offer.
Calling her affectionately “Fatimaben”, he wrote in 1989: “Sydney Poitier is a super-star and it would be a shot in the arm for him to act in the film.” In another letter in the same year Mr Mandela described Prof Meer as “a person of integrity, in fact one of our best activists”.
Prof Meer, who had been ill in recent years, visited Mr Mandela at his home in Johannesburg in October. She participated in the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Malibongwe Dialogues and was interviewed as part of the In Conversation Series in 2008.
Mr Mandela recently sent her a letter wishing her well after another health setback.