Media release

Government saddened by death of anti-apartheid activist, Father Albert Nolan

20 October 2022

20 October 2022

Government sends its deepest condolences to the family of anti-apartheid activist and internationally renowned theologian, Father Albert Nolan. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday.

Father Nolan was a dedicated South African Catholic priest, who challenged religious views and reasons for apartheid to exist. His life was dedicated to the struggle for democracy and the attainment of human rights in South Africa.

He was known for using the scriptures in the Bible to inspire and transform the lives of people and the world around them.

Father Nolan was also an author who was held in high esteem for his 1976 bestselling book Jesus Before Christianity, which has been translated into at least nine languages.

In 2003, former President Thabo Mbkei awarded him the Order of Luthuli in Silver, for his ‘contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice, peace and conflict resolution’.

His dedication to the demise of apartheid, and being an underground activist, led him to decline an offer to become Master of the Dominican Order in 1983 in Rome. Shortly after, in 1986, like many other anti-apartheid activists, he was forced into hiding from the apartheid police. He was also instrumental in the drafting process of the Kairos Document in mid-1985, and edited the document together with the esteemed Reverend Frank Chikane.

GCIS Director General, Phumla Williams, said: “Father Nolan’s life’s work and dedication to our country can never be fully captured, and he will forever be remembered for his bravery, sacrifices and commitment to the struggle and to the people of South Africa. He is truly an unsung hero who will forever remain in our hearts. Government sends his deepest condolences to the Catholic Church, his friends and family.”

Phumla Williams, Cabinet Spokesperson
Cell: 0835010139

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