Pregaluxmi (Pregs) Govender was born in Cato Manor, Durban. Her father is the celebrated playwright, Ronnie Govender who won the 1997 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for his book, At the Edge and other Cato Manor Stories. After matriculating from the Durban Indian Girls High school (now Sastri College), she completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Durban-Westville. Govender has gone on to teach at her alma mater, serve the trade union movement from 1987 to 1992, and become a member of parliament after 1994.
In light of her work, Govender has won several accolades and honours. She is a recipient of the International Association for Women’s Rights in Developments (AWID) Inspiration Award which recognizes an individual whose initiative, leadership, and unrelenting commitment have made a significant impact in advancing gender equality and social justice around the world. Govender received the first Ruth First Fellowship in 2004 for courageous writing and activism. She has also received an honorary doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Durban Westville in recognition of her contribution to political transformation in South Africa.
Her autobiographical novel, Love and Courage – A Story of Insubordination, traces her origins from the poverty she experienced at the hands of Apartheid, her role as a mother, wife, outspoken activist against HIV Aids and a determined advocate of women’s rights. The novel is divided into six parts (Life, Politics, Power, Choices, The Arms Deal, No HIV/AIDS) that gives the reader insight into the instances in her life that have helped shape the person she has become. Love and Courage is an honest, candid and inspiring story of a woman who has triumphed in a political and social climate that undermined South African Indian women and chronicles her continual fight against racism, the ills of capitalism, prejudice and gender inequality.
from Love and Courage – A Story of Insubordination
We woke early on Deepawali day and had our routine ‘oil bath’, with Ma pouring castor oil into our eyes, coconut oil on our heads and sweet oil into our ears before our bath. I hated the smell of castor oil; Ma gave us a tablespoonful to drink with an orange to wash down the taste. At night we ?lled the clay lamps with oil and rolled cotton wool into wicks. We helped Ma place them outside on our windowsills before she lit them. All over Durban the lamps on windowsills lit up the darkness during the ‘festival of lights’. When the inevitable thunderstorm broke, the rain steamed off hot tarred roads and the lamps were whisked indoors.
One of my most memorable and colourful Deepawalis began with a fight between my parents over the big box of fireworks that Dad had bought. Ma berated him for his extravagance throughout the drive to the beach. Once there, Dad placed the box on the bonnet of his car. Somehow a spark got into the box and resulted in a spectacular display of fireworks going off simultaneously in all directions. We were treated to a glorious cacophony of sound and a kaleidoscope of colour that drowned out my mother's complaints.
2007. Love and Courage: A Story of Insubordination. Roggebaai: Kwela Books.