How to Own the Monster of Apartheid

Diplomat Imran Simmins about the South African society and how to cope with the past.

by TwentyThirty, May 27, 2019
Imran Simmins

This article originally appeared on TwentyThirty. 

"Where we come from is a bad place."

Imran Simmins

Today, South Africans are heading to the polls to vote in the country’s sixth and biggest democratic elections since the dawn of democracy in 1994. However, apartheid is still alive and kicking in the country of Nelson Mandela. As long as this highly unequal society is avoiding a raw conversation about its history, there will be no change, says Imran Simmins. "You need to own it. There is no other way."

Imran is a South African diplomat. He is currently an official in South Africa's Foreign Ministry, covering issues related to South Africa's position on science and technology in multilateral organizations. Prior to that, he served as First Secretary (Political) at the Embassy of South Africa in Berlin, Germany.

Imran Simmins served as an Elected Advisory Council Member of the Global Diplomacy Lab from November 2016 to November 2018, and he is a member of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network. Imran took part in the  BMW Foundation Global Table Cape Town in May 2018, coinciding with the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.

He joined the Foreign Service in January 2005, where he served as Desk Officer for the National Office for Coordination of Peace Missions, as well as on the USA Political Bilateral Desk.

From June 2007 to July 2011, he served his first diplomatic posting as First Secretary (Political) at the South African Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe , where he dealt with a range of issues, from serving on the secretariat of the SADC-appointed Mediation Team in Zimbabwe to dealing with the land issues in Zimbabwe as they affected South Africa.

Throughout his teenage years, he took up various leadership positions as a student activist in organizations that stood up against apartheid and other forms of injustice. He maintains these values to this day.


This article is presented in collaboration with TwentyThirty

TwentyThirty is an online magazine presented by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt. It sheds light on the social, political, and environmental challenges we face and features inspiring Responsible Leaders who are working to solve them. Follow their work on Facebook.