Richard Turner: A life Expressed in Reason and lived in Freedom
At the tail end of the 60's and the beginning of the 70's two men stood out above all their peers, two men who between them transformed the consciousness of black and white students in South Africa. One was Steve Biko and the other Richard Turner. Both men were unique outpourings of the vibrant richness of the South African soil. In them we see blazing exemplars of human beings' ability to harness their formidable energies to transform not only their own lives but those of their compatriots as well. I was fortunate to befriend both on the same evening and a year later, to be married to the one.
So it delights me to be able to welcome you to this site. What is offered here are the thoughts, reflections, dialogues and research of my husband, a man endlessly curious about life, excited about the possibilities of change and passionate about the good that we can do. Richard Turner loved words: the spoken word, the written word and especially words exchanged in the exploration of ideas. Words came to him easily. He used them well. Words opened doors into new possibilities. This knowledge he used skillfully. So he was an excellent teacher and an inspiring speaker, capable of rousing his audience into strategic action.
Rick was also a prolific writer. He possessed the rare skill of unraveling complex thought into clear and lucid prose. Among his offerings you will find useful and insightful explorations on politics, philosophy, history, education, sociology, labour and industrial relations. Much has been written about him. So you will find many answers to questions that arise as you read.
There is a major caveat though. No writing ever substitutes actuality. A life is not re-created through words. A life is lived. It is experienced. The more the experience is shared, the richer, the fuller the life. Rick lived such a life. His life embraced, touched and directly influenced so many people. Each one of them holds a special piece of his life. And if all these people were gathered together and they told you about their experience of him, you would begin to see him, to get a sense of him. So I encourage you to read what others have written about him, particularly Tony Morphet's preface to the Ravan Press edition of the Eye of the Needle.
I can only tell you about my experience of Rick. The biographical details are available in many places [Catherine Dubbeld does a good job except for one small detail: Rick's second daughter, Kim, was born in the Cape] so I will not repeat them here. It goes almost without saying that the South Africa in which he grew up was very different to the one in which I did. But through each other we came to inhabit a bigger country: no longer tourists or migrants in the sectors of our birth.