When the story of the Jewish contribution to the fall of apartheid is written, Leslie Rubin's name will be up there in bright shining lights. Yet when racial discrimination finally collapsed inside South Africa in 1994 allowing Rubin to return home after 44 years in self-imposed exile, there was no red carpet at Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg, no ''welcome home'' mat at Cape Town where as a young man, a scion of Orthodox Judaism, he championed the cause of the disinherited black.

Leslie Rubin had a long life which took in most of the big events of his time.

As a Durban attorney he campaigned against the loss of the African vote in the Cape Province in 1936. Two years later this son of a Cape Town rabbi was instrumental in founding the South African Liberal Party which, for many years, rang a small but hard-to-avoid sound in the South African Assembly and Senate against the growing might of the Nationalists who intellectualised the often vile concept and programme of institutionalised racial discrimination.

Detested by the Christian establishment which made up Nationalist governments under the leadership of Malan, Strijdom, Verwoerd, and Vorster, Leslie Rubin was often an only and lonely voice in the Upper House - an impossible-to-ignore echo of party chairman Margaret Ballinger who was also denigrated as a ''communist/ Jew/kaffir lover'' by men and women who had openly sided with the Nazis during the Second World War.

As the National Party packed parliament, the army, police, and public service with men of their own persuasion, Leslie Rubin found himself in the interesting but unenviable position of representing Cape Town blacks in the senate.

Old ''English'' laws which allowed a white to represent blacks (in theory, blacks to represent whites) were being dismantled rapidly by the new boys on the South African block. Before push came to shove, the canny Leslie Rubin did a bunk not to another part of South Africa, but to the minds of millions of his white countrymen - the Mecca of all African ''evil'' in the 1960s which was freshly independent Ghana under Kwame (The Saviour) Nkrumah.

Rubin resigned from the senate and became the first director of the Centre of African Law at the University of Ghana in Accra. After a time there, he left sadly disillusioned and weary of Nkrumah's mad Marxist antics, which turned one of the continent's wealthiest nations into one of its poorest almost in fewer than five years.

From Ghana Rubin went to America, where he served as professor of comparative African politics at Howard University, Washington DC. But he resigned in 1976 when Black Power was at its height.

He was to find in America, as he had already discovered in Ghana, that black nationalists have little time for white liberals once they have achieved their aim, which is political and economic power. His homecoming in 1994 brought no instant recognition from the post-apartheid government led by Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

The ANC leadership in exile (largely Asian, Jewish, and black/white Moscow-oriented communism)) never had much time for liberals like Leslie Rubin.

Yet at the end of his life this courageous Jew did have the quiet satisfaction of seeing some of his dreams come true. He saw the start of justice in South Africa.