by Jay Naidoo, 2012
I clearly remember my first encounter with Emma Mashinini. The indomitable Ma Emma was standing in the hall at Khotso House, the headquarters of the South African Council of Churches – one of the few places we were able to meet – surrounded and dwarfed by workers. She spotted Jayendra Naidoo first, who was then working as an organiser in the Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa (CCAWUSA), and she embraced him warmly. She turned to hug me, too, and as she did, I felt her intense compassion and warmth as she whispered, ‘Welcome my son. Welcome to our family.’ It was, and has remained ever since, an intense and powerful connection.