Hamba Kahle Dot Keet

10 February 2020

TNI mourns the loss of Dorothy Keet (February 16, 1942 - February 8, 2020), who passed away in London after a period of long illness. Dot was a TNI Fellow and Planning Board member from 2001 to 2011, and Associate ever since.  She will be fondly remembered by TNI’s Associates, Fellows, staff and wider community.

Dot always insisted she was a Southern African – born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, studied in Cape Town, married and lived in Angola, worked and lived in Mozambique and eventually returned to South Africa in 1991 after the unbanning of the liberation movements.  Dot was a revolutionary who dedicated her youth to the liberation movements of the region, meeting many of the legendary African revolutionaries of that time. She married an MPLA fighter she met in Cape Town, who became Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs in the newly liberated Angola after 1975, and with whom she had her daughter Thandi. Dot was widowed very young after her husband was assassinated, and was forced to flee to Mozambique with her small child. She taught there for many years, serving as a head mistress. In the 1980s Dot and Thandi moved to London. Dot worked  there for the Mozambique Information Service, selecting internationalistas who wanted to serve the then socialist project of Frelimo in Mozambique even as it was mired in civil war stoked by neighbouring apartheid South Africa and the CIA.

As the South African transition from apartheid got underway, Dot itched to get back to African soil. She chose to settle in South Africa's political capital Johannesburg, where she worked as a writer for the South African Labour Bulletin embedding herself in the heady politics of the transition from the perspective of the powerful labour movement at that time, and served as an expert within the ANC/COSATU Macro-Economic Research Group (MERG).

In the later 1990s, she moved to Cape Town where she served as a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Southern African Studies at the University of the Western Cape, and worked as a research associate and eventual Board member of the newly established Alternative Information & Development Centre.

From this point on, Dot was an impassioned activist-researcher and political educator, supporting resistance to neoliberal globalisation from an African vantage point. She was one of the earliest movement experts on the implications of the new global trade regime being entrenched through the recently established World Trade Organisation, and later through the European Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with Africa that were initiated some years later.

Dot worked closely with the Third World Network (Ghana), and helped build the Africa Trade Network, and the wider Our World is Not for Sale Network. These efforts positioned Dot well with national trade ministries across Africa, particularly her adopted South Africa. She was also instrumental in building  a regional activist network – the Southern African Peoples Solidarity Network – to back the lobby efforts from below. These were the exciting founding days of the World Social Forum and the global coming together of increasingly vocal movements from across the Global South resisting neoliberal globalisation and asserting that Another World was Possible.

TNI was deeply involved in the political moment and recognised and valued Dot's commitment, expertise and African perspective. TNI drew Dot into its nascent Alternative Regionalisms Programme, which sought to offer an international space for strategic coordination among the new regionally linked movements, and to explore a people-centred regional integration as an alternative to globalisation. Dot was appointed a Fellow in 2001, and served enthusiastically in this role for ten years, continuing as a TNI Associate thereafter.

The Institute published many of Dot's papers, articles and speeches, collected here. 

Dot returned to London in the 2010s, where she lived with Thandi and her grandchildren. She was able to see her grandchildren grow up, and helped them with their schooling.

TNI extends heartfelt condolences to Thandi and her children, her brother and all her comrades around the world. We will all remember Dot as an indomitable revolutionary, committed activist-researcher and a true daughter of Africa.

Hamba Kahle, Comrade Dot.

Tributes to Dot from TNI's friends, staff and associates:

Tom Kucharz:  Hoy lloramos la pérdida de Dot Keet y celebramos su vida. Ella falleció el 8 de febrero. Fue una bellísima persona, gran analista y activista de Sudáfrica en campañas históricas por la descolonización de África así como contra la globalización económica, la Organización Mundial de Comercio (OMC) y la política comercial neoliberal. Tuve la suerte de aprender y trabajar con ella.

Dot era pura energía y un pozo de conocimiento, nunca temía confrontar con el paradigma de los poderosos y siempre estaba preparada con una investigación meticulosa impulsada por su gran pasión por la justicia.

Dot Keet nació el 16 de febrero de 1942. Participó en la lucha antiimperialista a lo largo de su vida y en diversos movimientos sociales de África. Fue investigadora asociada del Transnational Institute (TNI) y del Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC), participó en el Grupo sudafricano de Estrategia sobre Comercio y en las redes Southern African Peoples Solidarity Network (SAPSN), Southern African Social Forum (SASF) y el Africa Trade Network.

Fue una pensadora y académica que explicó en profundidad las consecuencias adversas de la OMC y los tratados comerciales. Dot Keet ha sido profesora universitaria en varios países africanos y hace unos años estuvo muy volcada en la lucha contra los Acuerdos de Asociación Económica (EPA en sus siglas en inglés) entre la Unión Europea y los países de África, Caribe y Pacífico (ACP). “Europa tiene una gran deuda con África, no hay discusión posible" dijo Dot Keet.

En 2009 y 2010, Dot Keet ha estado en Madrid y Barcelona apoyándonos en la campaña contra los tratados de comercio que la Unión Europea intenta imponer desde 2007 a los países de África, el Caribe y Pacífico.

Su trabajo fue muy valioso. Puedes consultar gran parte de sus publicaciones aquí: https://www.tni.org/en/profile/dot-keet.

Izaskun Aroca le hizo esta entrevista en el periódico DIAGONAL (hoy elsaltodiario.com): https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/…/la-ue-dice-firmad-o-se-…

La echaremos mucho de menos.

hamba kahle Dot Keet. Descanse en paz.

Africa Trade Network: Another sad loss has rocked the Africa Trade Network (ATN) family – with the passing on Saturday 8 February  of our very dear Comrade Dot Keet.  Dot has been an indefatigable warrior -- against apartheid, for the liberation of Africa and the integration of the continent, for equity and justice in the world.  A great scholar, activist and teacher, Dot has lived and fought in many an African country outside South Africa – including Angola,  Mozambique, Ghana.  She brought that rich and diverse experience to the struggles against globalisation.  As a founder- member of the ATN, Dot strove to unite the interests and struggles of the masses of ordinary people and their movements with the rigour of policy analysis in the network’s many campaigns, against the WTO, the EPA, structural adjustment.  Not only was she at the forefront in many seminal moments in the global campaign – from Singapore to Seattle, Cancun and Bamako  --  she also inspired and helped build regional networks such as the Southern African Peoples Solidarity Network (SAPSN), which brought global and continent-wide struggles closer home and gave them stronger local roots.

Above it all, Dot was modest, warm and generous, giving of her time and knowledge to many activists, young and not so young.  We shall miss her dearly. Our deepest condolences to her family and comrades. 

Asad Rehman, Director War on Want, UK: Dot was a great ally and teacher. She was an inspiring activist and thinker. Fierce and determined as any champion of justice needs to be. Her words of wisdom and call for action live on in the work all of us who stand on the shoulders of giants like Dot do in the fight for another world. Rest in Power Dot.

Sanya Reid Smith, Third World Network: Dot had such a huge influence, taught us so much and leaves such big shoes to fill.  I will never forget the warm welcome with open arms that she gave me and each new activist. She made a huge difference on the macro scale and in individual lives. We will indeed miss her and deepest condolences to her family and friends.