Google Doodle celebrates Alan Paton's 115th birthday

11 January 2018 - 14:56 By Nico Gous
File photo of Alan Paton
File photo of Alan Paton
Image: Johnnic Library.

Google on Thursday celebrated what would have been the 115th birthday of South African author Alan Paton by creating a Google Doodle in his honour.

A Google Doodle is when Google creates a special‚ alternative logo on their homepage to commemorate people‚ holidays‚ events or achievements.

Google said the Doodle depicted Paton on a train ride during which he allegedly gained inspiration to write his famous novel Cry‚ the Beloved Country.

The internet search engine company described Paton as “a visionary who did much to fight for basic human principles of love‚ non-violence‚ and equality”.

Cry‚ the Beloved Country was first published in 1948.

“Ironically the very year in which apartheid was formally institutionalised‚ beginning four decades of racial segregation in South Africa‚” Google said.

According to South African History Online‚ by 1988 the novel had sold more than 15 million copies.

Google said on its website: “South African author and activist Alan Paton introduced the world to life in pre-apartheid South Africa‚ fearlessly speaking out against racial segregation in person and through his books‚ and propagating universal franchise and non-violence.”

Paton was born on January 11 1903 in Pietermaritzburg.

According to South African History Online: “Neither of Paton’s parents was highly educated‚ but his father was deeply religious and a strict and controlling parent that used corporal punishment to control his sons. This led to Paton’s open opposition to any form of authoritarianism and physical punishment.”

Paton studied at the University of Natal and became a teacher. In 1935 he was appointed the principal of Diepkloof Reformatory for Young Offenders where he introduced progressive reforms.

Paton toured Sweden‚ Norway and North America to study prisons and reform facilities. In was during this time that he became inspired to write Cry‚ the Beloved Country.

“His magnum opus is a moving tale of racial injustice‚ human suffering‚ and redemption‚ as two fathers come to terms with the loss of their sons — one an accidental murder and the other‚ his unfortunate victim‚” Google said.

In 1953 he helped form the Liberal Party which opposed apartheid and was elected party leader in 1955.

He died on April 12 1988.