KZN bishop wins peace award

2009-06-29 00:00

THE work a local cleric has done for justice and peace has been recognised with a prestigious international award.

The Anglican Bishop of Natal, Bishop Rubin Phillip, has won the 2009 International Bremen Peace Award for “public action for justice, peace and integrity of creation”.

The award, which includes €15 000 (about R170 000), was announced at a conference on church, poverty and land hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) at the Sinodale Centre in the city centre yesterday. Phillip is chairman of the KZNCC, which nominated him for the award.

KZNCC CEO, the Reverend Phumzile Zondi-Mabizela, said the award is “fitting recognition of the bishop’s contribution to peace in Southern Africa and KZN”.

“His passion in matters of peace and justice is unbelievable. His compassion for people who are suffering gross violations of human rights and economic deprivation is burning. He is on record as an independent prophetic voice at a time when the religious and the political leadership in Southern Africa seem to be blunt and callous on matters of peace, justice, human rights, the plight of the poor and the integrity of creation.”

Zondi-Mabizela said Phillip has been active in working to help victims of xenophobia and homeless people in the province, and outspoken on human rights violations in Zimbabwe. In April 2008, he and Paddy Kearney, executive of the Diakonia Council of Churches, got a court interdict to stop a Chinese ship headed for Durban harbour from unloading a consignment of armaments on their way to Zimbabwe.

He is also “at the forefront of interfaith dialogue in South Africa” and is the chairman of the Inter-religious Forum in South Africa.

Phillip was a member of the Black Consciousness Movement and was deputy president of the South African Students’ Organisation in 1969, when Steve Biko was president. He was placed under house arrest from 1973 to 1976.

Phillip said he is humbled by the award, especially when he considers the many other people involved in the struggle for a just society.

He said the prize money will go towards pre-primary education because this was something to which he and his wife, Rose, are deeply committed.

“There are already plans in place, and a pre-primary school should be established in Mpophomeni by the end of the year.”

The Phillips will travel to Germany in October where he will receive his award at a ceremony in Bremen.

Launched in 2003 by the Threshold Foundation in Bremen, Germany, the award recognises individuals and organisations that “have the courage to cross thresholds” and display “exemplary commitment to justice, peace and integrity of creation”.

It is awarded every two years in three different categories that cover reconciliation, human rights, countering racism, social justice, integrity of creation, and cross-cultural or cross-religious communication.

Phillip received the award in thr third category for “persons in the public arena, who have shown sustainable and courageous commitment for peace and justice …”


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