UK -Europe
2019-05-07 / .

Robert Govender, pioneer of decolonised journalism, announced as recipient of Krishna Menon Award 2019

The late G D 'Robert' Govender, the South Africa born journalist of the Indian diaspora and pioneer of decolonised journalism, has been named as the recipient of the VK Krishna Menon Award 2019.

During a career spanning nearly 60 years, Govender developed a reputation as a campaigning journalist and author. The youngest newspaper editor in South Africa's history when he took the helm of the Indian Mirror in 1950, he was also the first journalist to call for an international boycott of South Africa's whites only sports teams. His books included the much acclaimed The Martyrdom of Patrice Lumumba which exposed the role of Western intelligence agencies in the murder of the Congolese independence leader.

The posthumous award was announced during an event to mark V K Krishna Menon's 123rd birth anniversary hosted by the V K Krishna Menon Institute (VKKMI) on 3 May at the Nehru Centre, London.

Acting Director of London's Nehru Centre, Brij Guhare welcomed guests including the Deputy High Commissioner Charanjeet Singh, Dr Mohal Kaul, (Executive Chairman of ALGLOTECH and a former Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council), Dayantha 'Dai' Liyanage MBE (former Mayor of Medway), Councillor Sunil Chopra (former Mayor of Southwark) and Newham Councillor Sugathan Thekkeppurayil to the annual event.

The Deputy High Commissioner stated that since Menon played an indispensable role in the Indian independence movement, as Secretary of the India League and served as the Republic of India's first High Commissioner in London it was entirely appropriate that Menon's birth anniversary continues to be commemorated at the High Commission's Cultural Centre.

Dr Mohan Kaul recalled his memories of Menon as a formidable statesman who had served India in a number of roles and earned the epithet 'the Hero of Kashmir' following his passionate defence of Indian sovereignty in Kashmir during an historic eight-hour speech to the United Nations in 1957.

Dr Cyriac Maprayil, Executive Director of the V K Krishna Menon Institute highlighted throle of Menon and Pandit Nehru as the architects of India's policy which enabled India to become a republic and at the same time be a member of the Commonwealth. Dr Maprayil noted that, 'Winston Churchill hailed Menon's contribution to cementing a close post-colonial relationship between Britain and India as 'a magnanimous gesture on India's part' and that The Times newspaper of 1 July 1947 acknowledged it as a turning point in human history. Menon defined the role of the British Monarch as the symbol of the free association of the Commonwealth's independent member nations. The condition for membership was no longer that of allegiance to the Crown but acceptance of the Crown as the head of the Commonwealth in which equality of all races was established.'

Speaking after the event, VKKMI Board Member Tony Slater explained the Board's unanimous decision to name Robert Govender as the first posthumous recipient of the Krishna Menon award, 'Krishna Menon stood for something other than himself and spent his entire life trying to achieve that. Govender's work over 60 years displayed similar qualities of selflessness and a determination to do the right thing. He ensured that the authentic voice of the Indian diaspora was heard wherever he worked and while he may have been reluctant to accept such an award during his lifetime it is fitting that his memory and his outstanding contribution as a pioneer of decolonised journalism gets honoured by the Krishna Menon Institute.'

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