Father Albert Nolan regarded as ‘icon of the struggle’: Ramaphosa

Reading Time: 3 minutes

President Cyril Ramaphosa has conveyed his condolences to the Dominican Order and the family of Apartheid activist Father Albert Nolan.

The President, who is in Upington for an imbizo, was represented by former cabinet minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Father Nolan is credited with drafting the Kairos document which paved the way for churches to take a stand against the Apartheid system’s reign of oppression.

A small and intimate funeral service was held in his memory at the Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Springs, East of Johannesburg.

Conveying a message in his capacity as the African National Congress (ANC) president, Ramaphosa described Father Albert Nolan as an icon of the struggle.

Speaking through Mokonyane, Ramaphosa described Nolan as an activist for the poor, a mission which placed him in great danger.

The theologian died while at an old age home in Boksburg earlier in the week.

Former cabinet minister, Nomvula Mokonyane says, “The struggle to which Father Nolan dedicated his life to is not over. It continues in the fight to end poverty and inequality to stop GBV and to hold those in power to account and banish corruption from our public life.”

Contribution to the youth

Mokonyane shows her appreciation for Nolan’s words of encouragement when they formed student movements like COSAS. She adds that the Catholic Church became a home for young activists who were fighting for social justice, thanks to Nolan.

Father Simangaliso Mkhatshwa, an apartheid activist says, “We came to the conclusion that maybe we need to provide a tool that would help the church to understand the nature of apartheid. It was not just racism, it was much more insidious.”

Tributes continue to pour in, as friends and fellow members of the faith celebrate his life. In remembering his teachings, some said Nolan taught them that faith and social justice were intertwined and that one could not exist without the other.

Professor Philippe Denis OP, Senior professor in the history of Christianity at UKZN says, “Despite the fact that apartheid was a Christian product and the church be complicit in apartheid for a long time. He redeemed the honour of the church in the 70s and 80s. He is also remembered as the one who is given flesh to what we call contextual theology.”

Father Nolan’s remains have been interred in Boksburg. He is survived by his sister.

Video – Tributes continue to pour in for anti-apartheid activist Father Albert Nolan: