From the BBC Radio 4 Great Lives Archives
David Miliband, discusses the life of Joe Slovo with Joe Slovo’s elder Daughter, the celebrated author Gillian Slovo – a man who inspired David and who was a close friend of David’s father Ralph Miliband.
Great Lives is a BBC Radio 4 biography series, . A distinguished guest(in this case David Miliband) is asked to nominate the person they feel is truly deserving of the title “Great Life”. The presenter and a recognised expert ;a biographer, family member or fellow practitioner (in this case Joe Slovo’s elder daughter acclaimed author Gillian Slovo) are on hand to discuss the life.
David Miliband is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he oversees the agency’s humanitarian relief operations in more than 40 war-affected countries
Under Miliband’s leadership, the IRC has expanded its ability to rapidly respond to humanitarian crises and meet the needs of an unprecedented number of people uprooted by conflict, war and disaster. The organisation is implementing an ambitious global strategy to bring clear outcomes, strong evidence and systematic research to the humanitarian programs through collaborative partnerships with the public and private sectors. Previously, David was British Foreign Secretary. Miliband’s parents fled to Britain from continental Europe during World War II and its aftermath. David’s father; the esteemed Labour Leader Ralph Milliband was a close friend of Joe Slovo whilst Joe was in exile.
There is a still moment near the end of Gillian Slovo’s 1997 family memoir when, in the cold of 5am, just after her father has died, Nelson Mandela says exactly the right thing. Slovo’s parents had been part of the fight against apartheid since the early 50s. Joe was chief of staff of the armed wing of the ANC until 1994, when he became housing minister. Her mother, Ruth First, a tireless campaigner, was killed on August 17 1982 by a letter-bomb addressed to her by the South African security forces. But Mandela, to whom Joe spoke his last words, does not talk grandly of the struggle; instead, he tells Slovo and her two sisters about a day when he went to hug his own grown daughter, and she flinched, saying, “You are the father to all our people, but you have never had the time to be a father to me.”
This, writes Slovo, “was his greatest, perhaps his only regret: the fact that his children, and the children of his comrades, had been the ones to pay the price of their parents’ commitment”. – extracted from interview with Gillian Slovo by the Guardian Newspaper