The Right Reverend Rubin Phillip grew up in the poor neighbourhood of Clairwood where he was born on 30th March 1948 into a non-religious household. At the age of 16, Bishop Rubin Phillip attended St Michaels Church in Merebank where he met the love of his life at youth group, Rosemary Phillip, whom he later married. When he was 23, Phillip decided he wanted to become an ordained priest in the Anglican Church.
He entered the priesthood in 1971 and was consecrated Bishop by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1995. He was one of the very first bishops of colour in the Anglican Diocese of Natal. He became the first non-white South African to hold the position of Bishop of KwaZulu-Natal in 2000.
Bishop Phillip 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 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 ongoing work to offer solidarity to displaced people, victims of persecutions and detainees, Bishop Phillip received the Bremen International Peace Prize and the Diakonia Award.
Today, Bishop Phillip’s commitment to peace-making, reconciliation and mediation 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. He remains involved in issues of peace, justice and human rights in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. He continues to take political stances and remains connected to grassroots struggles.