Oneida Cooper to swim from island her dad jailed on

11 September 2018 - 10:24
By Sihle Ndebele
Oneida Cooper
Oneida Cooper

Anti-apartheid activist Saths Cooper's daughter Oneida may not have utilised politics to empower others like her father but she appears to have inherited her dad's big heart of helping others.

Cooper, 25, established a nonprofit organisation (NPO), Making Waves Together SA, aimed at teaching children from underprivileged communities how to swim as a necessary life skill.

"We teach historically disadvantaged kids how to swim. We want to reduce the perennial school holiday loss of life by drowning, creating a critical sense of mastery and independence," said Cooper whose swimming lessons are conducted at her newly founded swimming school Bubble Babies in Rosebank, Joburg.

Cooper has already been successful in grooming a group of 20 boys aged 6-13 from Nkosi's Haven, a Joburg-based HIV/Aids home, to be water safe in under three months.

The Joburg-born water enthusiast will embark on a cold water journey from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand to raise funds for the NPO she has established. This will also be about paying homage to her father, who spent five years on the famous island, sharing a cell with renowned Struggle icon Nelson Mandela.

Should she finish her water journey on October 5 or 6 "depending on the weather", Cooper will be the first direct descendent of someone who was incarcerated on the island to attempt the swim.

She graduated in clinical psychology and women's studies from the University of New Hampshire in 2015, while on a swimming scholarship.