Official launch (March 1997)
Although the Harold Wolpe Memorial
Trust was established in 1996, it was launched officially
on 31 March 1997. The launch was marked by a dinner held at
the Spier Festival Center in Stellenbosch.
The 190 guests included prominent
politicians, ambassadors, trustees, friends, and academics.
Mr Ronald Segal, life-long friend of Harold Wolpe, acted as
Prof Jakes Gerwel and Dr AnnMarie
Wolpe paid short tributes to Harold's work.
Prof Saleem Badat, in his keynote
address, acknowledged the seminal influence of Prof Wolpe
on generations of students. Badat further paid tribute to
Wolpe as a scholar, a person committed to the transformation
of South African society, a man of high integrity, and someone
who never deviated from his socialist beliefs.
The Trust gratefully acknowledges
the Swedish International Development Agency and Interfund
for financial assistance for its launch dinner.
Kader Asmal and
AnnMarie Wolpe, Pallo
Jordan and Eddie Webster
Naledi Pandor and
Peta, Nicholas and
Michael Burawoy and Dave
The formative years (1997-2000)
Friends, colleagues and family
members established the Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust to commemorate
Wolpe's life achievement, and to develop the tradition of
his activism and scholarship.
The Trust was legally established in 1997 with the then South
African President, Nelson Mandela, as its Patron. A Board
of Trustees and an Executive
Committee were selected to run the Trust's affairs.
The Trust's first event, an international
conference on "The political
economy of social change in South Africa", was hosted
in April 1997. The conference, which was characterised by
lively debate on key socio-political and economic issues,
was an enormous success. Importantly, it indicated the need
for continued public debate on contemporary issues.
This led to the introduction
of the "Harold Wolpe forum meetings" in 1998 in
Cape Town, on the basis of funding from the Liberty Life Foundation,
a private donor, and Interfund.
At first, the forum meetings
were informal events held at the home of Dr AnnMarie Wolpe,
and involved a handful of parliamentarians, academics and
activists. These events soon gained in popularity, which urged
the Trust to apply for new and more substantial funding for
Expansion and consolidation
In 2001, the Trust managed to secure
a generous three-year grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies.
This provided the stimulus to consolidate, formalise and expand
the work of the organisation. This included securing office
premises in Cape Town; the employment of a full-time National
Co-ordinator; the engagement of the Centre for Civil Society
at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as a Durban-based partner;
and the introduction of new activities and programmes.
Since then, the Trust has grown from strength to strength,
signing on additional partners to carry out activities in
Gauteng and the Eastern Cape (see Partners),
and expanding the range of its activities. The latter include
an annual memorial lecture, conferences
and colloquia, publications,
and a television series.
The expansion and consolidation of the Trust has been sustained
by three additional sources of funding, including the Ford
Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Open
Society Foundation of South Africa.
The Trust continues to fulfil its role as one of South Africa's
premiere facilitators of critical dialogue and debate between
policy-makers, academia and civil society around important
socio-political and economic issues.