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Sunday, October 9, 2016


(Allister Sparks)

Jill Storrar, retired from Kloof Municipal Library, but main mover of the Friends of Kloof Library Forum, has penned this tribute in the organisation’s newsletter:

“Most of you would have read the sad news about the death of Allister Sparks.

As he has presented four talks to the Friends of Kloof Library I feel it is important to pay tribute to this most remarkable man who was one of the finest journalists South Africa has seen.

Allister's talks were from the heart and displayed the courage and integrity of a man who was prepared to fight for honesty, justice and the rights of all. His predictions of what was to happen in this last municipal election (told to us in 2013!) were extraordinarily accurate. He told us that the ANC would start to crumble and that the glue that held the party together would start to dissolve. And look where we are now....

At the end of his memoirs The Pen and the Sword he wrote…”All of us in this shrinking world have to learn to live in harmony with ‘the other’. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, both Nobel Peace Prize winners, have given South Africans the vision of a ‘rainbow nation’ at peace with itself and the world. Now we have to conjure up the vision of a ‘rainbow world.

“Not easy. It’s going to require instilling a great deal of tolerance, empathy and human understanding. And we South Africans have been assigned the role of showing the way. The polecat of the world has become the pathfinder.”

As the Daily Maverick wrote "His writing showed the way".

On a personal note I always had the greatest admiration for Allister who was so happy to come to Kloof. The fact that he was so highly regarded internationally and had met and conversed with many world leaders, but was still prepared to come and talk to our Forum, was humbling in itself.

The last trip he made down to Kloof from Johannesburg was by car and this despite our begging him to fly. You see, at 83 years old, and with sight in only one eye we felt the journey would be hazardous. His response to our plea was "No, no. I don't like to be babied and I must remain independent". He woke up at 4am in the morning, drove to Kloof, and spoke at our Friends' meeting in the evening. We were keen for him to go to bed early, but he stayed at the dinner table talking until almost midnight!! He loved to talk, and we so loved to listen. He was up the next morning at 6am getting ready to go to Howick and talk at Midlands' Forum!

For that reason, ending his life with a short illness was kind for him. To become incapacitated and lose his independence would have been a seriously cruel fate. He did not deserve that.

We will miss you, dearest Allister. This country is a better place as a result of your brilliant and brave journalism, your enormous wisdom and the courageous stand you were prepared to take for the betterment of all South Africans. – Jill Storrar