2014 marks several significant milestones on the South African timeline – 20 years of democracy, 10 years of the newly formed University of KwaZulu-Natal and 10 years since Denis Hurley, former Chancellor and catholic Archbishop of Durban passed away. 

Regarded as “one of our greatest South Africans” by Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hurley denounced apartheid as “intrinsically evil” and spent his life fighting for the restoration of human dignity for all. 

Jeff Hadebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, recently paid tribute to Hurley, who “steered the church during the challenging times in South African history, with his active involvement in the Freedom Charter in 1955; the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960; the rise of Black Consciousness; the revival of Black Trade Unions and the Soweto Uprisings”. 

From 12-13 February, in recognition of Hurley’s immense contribution to justice, peace and reconciliation, UKZN’s Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies Programme, in the School of Social Sciences, College of Humanities, is hosting a 2-day colloquium and workshop entitled, “Community serving humanity and beyond – the legacy of Archbishop Denis Hurley OMI”. 

Paddy Kearney, former director of Diakonia, peace activist and long-time friend of Hurley, describes him as “courageous and compassionate”. This testimony to his virtues is politely understated. Julian Filochowski, former director of CAFOD, refers to Hurley as “nurturing a worldwide web of solidarity”. 

Event organiser, Dr Alain Tschudin, suggests that, “Such solidarity, tirelessly promoted by Hurley, is the inspiration steering our commemorative event, which actively seeks to bring academics, practitioners, NGOs and community groups into dialogue to catalyse the meaningful societal engagement that is central to the vision and mission of UKZN.” 

The University is delighted to announce that Archbishop Njongo Ndungane will be the event’s opening speaker. He has been equated with Hurley in terms of their shared hallmark of “patient inclusivity” in the pursuit of social justice. 

Dr Ela Gandhi, one of the event’s special guests, writes of Hurley, “I viewed him as an elder who had tremendous commitment to the cause of the poor and suffering. His advice resonated with the views of my grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi and so I was always delighted to listen to his words and hear what he said about the issues that confronted the oppressed people of South Africa.” 

In this 20th anniversary of our fledgling democracy, the event promises to be a fitting celebration that both commemorates and promotes Hurley’s powerful legacy. 

As demand for attendance at the event is high, pre-registration is critical. Limited spaces are available for UKZN students and staff. Please contact Dr Alain Tschudin (Tschudin@ukzn.ac.za) or Ms Pamela Adams (Adamsp@ukzn.ac.za) to RSVP along with a brief motivation for your request to attend this event by latest 12 noon on Friday 7 February 2014. 

Kindly note that a waiting list will be registered and that requests without motivations will not be considered.

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