Bishop Rubin Phillip

Photograph by Val Adamson

The Right Reverend Rubin Philip grew up in the poor neighbourhood of Clairwood into a non-religious household. He entered the priesthood in 1971 and was consecrated Bishop by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1995. He became the first non-white South African to hold the position of Bishop of KwaZulu-Natal in 2000. Bishop Philip was involved in the Black Consciousness Movement and was Deputy President to Steve Biko in the South African Students Organisation in 1969. He was instrumental in the struggle against apartheid and spent three years under house arrest.

By virtue of his humble roots, Philip has championed the cause of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack-dwellers movement of Kennedy Road. In 2008, Phillip successfully obtained a court order preventing arms shipments destined for Zimbabwe being from transported through South Africa. He campaigned for protection and provided refuge to Zimbabweans during the xenophobic attacks in the same year. In recognition of his involvement in the anti-apartheid movement and his on-going work to offer solidarity to displaced people, victims of persecutions and detainees, Bishop Phillip received the Bremen International Peace Prize and the Daikonia Award.

Today, Bishop Phillip’s commitment to peace-making, reconciliation and mediation initiatives throughout the province are a shining example of what can be achieved not only through the strength of one’s beliefs, but also through the strength of one’s actions.

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