A new library and archive of Donald Woods’ books and papers is set to open at Hobeni, Eastern Cape. Hobeni, where Donald Woods was born and where he and his wife Wendy are now buried, is the headquarters of the Donald Woods Foundation.
The library contains 1,102 books and well over 3,000 documents, posters, audiotapes, videos and photographs, currently being catalogued and archived by former anti-apartheid activist David Kenvyn. Selected items will be available online.
The material chronicles Donald Woods’ life work, including his friendship with Steve Biko, his law suits against government ministers and his defiance of apartheid Police Minister Jimmy Kruger, when he exposed the truth about Biko’s death.
It includes hand-written notes and letters from Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Bobby Kennedy and Richard Attenborough, and a book signed by Kenneth Kaunda when the Woods family arrived in Lusaka from South Africa. The collection also includes an angry letter from Mangosuthu Buthelezi and another from George Matanzima from Umtata Central Prison.
There is a fine collection of books on the history of South Africa in general, and of the struggle against apartheid in particular, including copies of the books that Donald Woods wrote himself. There is also a collection of novels by South African authors opposed to apartheid, and whose books were banned in South Africa. Unsurprisingly, given Donald Woods’ passion for sport, there is a very good selection of books about cricket and chess.
The archive is a significant collection for students of the history of the anti-apartheid struggle.