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  96th Annual Convocation


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Allan Aubrey Boesak

Allan Aubrey Boesak holds appointments at the University of the Free State and the University of Stellenbosch. He has a BA from the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, and a PhD in Theology (Social Ethics) from the John Calvin Foundation at the Theological University in Kampen, Netherlands. Allan Boesak is the author of several books. His books in English are:

    Running with Horses: Reflections of an Accidental Politician (Joho, 2009)
    Globalisation: The Politics of Empire, Justice, and the Life of Faith (SUN, 2009), co-edited with Len Hansen.
    The Tenderness of Conscience: African Renaissance and the Spirituality of Politics (SUN, 2005).
    The Fire Within: Sermons from the Edge of Exile (New World Foundation, 2004)
    Shadows of the Light: Biblical Reflections in a Time of Trial (1996)
    Comfort and Protest: The Apocalypse of John from a South African Perspective (Westminster, 1987)
    If this is Treason, I am Guilty (Eerdmans, 1987)
    When Prayer Makes News (Westminster, 1986), co-edited with Charles Villa-Vicencio
    Black and Reformed: Apartheid, Liberation and the Calvinist Tradition (Orbis, 1984)
    Walking on Thorns: The Call to Christian Obedience (World Council of Churches, 1984)
    The Finger of God: Sermons on Faith and Socio-political Responsibility (Orbis, 1982)
    Farewell to Innocence: A Socio-ethical study of Black Theology and Black Power (Orbis, 1976)
    Coming in Out of the Wilderness: A Comparative Study of the ethics of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Theologische Hogeschool der Gereformeerde Kerken)
Allan Boesak is ordained in the Uniting Reformed Church (previously known as the Dutch Reformed Mission Church). He served as National Vice President of the South African Council of Churches and, together with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Frank Chikane, gave leadership to the ecumenical movement in South Africa during the crucial years of the intensification of the struggle against apartheid in the late 1970s through the early 1990s. At thirty-six years of age he was elected the president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches; the youngest ever, and the first African and person from the developing world to hold that position. As the spiritual leader of 70 million Reformed Christians in over 150 countries, Boesak played a decisive role in international ecumenical circles as theologian, preacher, and activist. In South Africa, he was one of the principal movers behind the decision to accept a new confession, which became known as the Confession of Belhar. Allan Boesak is known for his theological, church, and political contributions to the life of the people of South Africa. Also respected for his powerful speaking, Boesak is a sought-after preacher in many churches across South Africa and the world.

Within the ecumenical movement Boesak became known as a liberation theologian of note, making his name along such luminaries as James Cone and Gayraud Wilmore from the US, Gustavo Gutierrez from Peru, Rubem Alves from Brazil, Elsa Tamez from Mexico, José Miguez Bonino from Argentina, and Tissa Balasuriya from Sri Lanka. He is a founding member of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians. Having politically come of age in the philosophy of Black Consciousness, Boesak became convinced that the apartheid regime must be fought through the conscientization and mobilization of the masses.

As a result, he called for the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in January 1983, and this new movement of civic, students, workers, and religious organizations was formally launched on August 20, 1983. Bringing together over 700 organizations from all communities, the UDF became the first genuinely non-racial movement and the main force behind the anti-apartheid activities in the country during the decisive decade of the 1980s. Together with Archbishop Tutu, Dr. Frank Chikane, and Dr. Beyers Naude, he campaigned internationally for sanctions against the apartheid regime, and especially was active in the final campaign for financial sanctions during 1988-89.

In the 1990s Allan Boesak joined the unbanned African National Congress, served on its first team to the CODESA negotiations preparing for the first free elections in South Africa, and was elected its first leader in the Western Cape. After the 1994 elections, he became the first Minister of Economic Affairs in the Western Cape. He was designated Ambassador to the UN in Geneva in 1994.

Boesak lectures and preaches regularly across South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent, as well as in the United States and Europe.

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