Albie Sachs

Albie Sachs

  • Former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa


During his fellowship, Albie will work to ensure that the story of the making of South Africa’s constitution reaches the most marginalized person in the tiniest corner of the land. He will also seek to integrate the film Soft Vengeance into anti-retaliation and anti-bullying programs.

Albie Sachs is one of the most important leaders in South Africa’s struggles against apartheid and the suppression of human rights. At 20, in 1955, he participated in the Congress of the People, where the Freedom Charter was adopted, and, following law school, he defended people charged under racial statutes and security laws. Jailed for this work, he eventually had to leave the country. In 1988, Albie nearly lost his life when a bomb exploded under his car. Undaunted, he worked on writing South Africa’s democratic constitution and was appointed to the Constitutional Court by Nelson Mandela in 1994. His term on the court came to an end in 2009.

Winner of the Tang Prize in Rule of Law in 2014, he is currently using a portion of the award to tell the story of the making of South Africa’s democratic constitution and its Constitutional Court, which abolished capital punishment and ordered recognition of same-sex marriages. A prolific author, Albie is one of only two people to win the Alan Paton Award twice—in 1991 for his book The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter and in 2014 for The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law. A documentary about his life, Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa, by Abby Ginzberg, was released last year.