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Below is an extract from a speech by City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, at the awarding of the Freedom of the City to Archbishop Emeritus Njongokulu Ndungane at the City Hall on 11 November 2016

Tonight we gather to celebrate the example of a great man.

We congregate around a source of light in what are often perceived as dark times.

It makes me think of one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible.

John 1:5, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’.

Arch Ndungane has long since been such a light.

And tonight we honour him, in the hope that we will all share in that light and do our part to carry it forward.Arch Ndungane was once quoted as saying: ‘I am because we belong together. Ubuntu means to live and care for others, to act kindly towards one another, to be kind, just, fair compassionate, trustworthy, honest, to assist those in need, and to uphold good morals’.

We are celebrating a man who lived his life as an example of Ubuntu.

The Freedom of the City is the highest honour which we can bestow on a person who has lived a life of distinction.

We do this because we want to recognise those who, as sons and daughters of our soil, have inspired us through their life’s work.

Recipients of this prestigious award are those who have changed the course of history.

Archbishop Emeritus Njongokulu Ndungane has a deep-seated connection to Cape Town.

It was in Cape Town in 1960 that a speech by Robert Sobukwe on the pass laws led to him becoming involved in the activities of the Pan Africanist Congress.

He was arrested and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on Robben Island, followed by a two-year banning order restricting him to the magisterial districts of Cape Town and Wynberg.

On Robben Island he felt the call to the priesthood and he was later ordained as deacon at St George’s Cathedral. His first posting as a priest was to St Mark’s Church in Athlone.

Archbishop Emeritus Ndungane travelled all over the world and studied at King’s College in London before he returned to South Africa in the early 1980s, where he was posted to St Nicolas Church in Elsies River.

He ended his priestly career as Archbishop of the Anglian Church of Southern Africa, based in Cape Town.

One of the first acts as an archbishop was to lead a Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope to Robben Island – an act which recognised that Robben Island would become a beacon of hope for people around the world.

Millions visit Cape Town and make their own pilgrimages to see the island which played an integral part in the evolution of the vision of a new South Africa.

Archbishop Emeritus Ndungane has had a significant impact on the lives of people around the world and in Africa, and particularly in Cape Town where he played a key role in the Poverty Hearings of the late 1990s and the establishment of the Western Cape Religious Leaders’ Forum.

He served as executive director of the Historic Schools Restoration Project and as chairperson of the Council of the University of Cape Town.

He has received nine honourary doctorates during his career.

During a long and illustrious career, Archbishop Emeritus Ndungane has left an indelible mark on Cape Town and its people and is a worthy recipient of the Freedom of the City of Cape Town in recognition of his service to our city.

It is our great honour to bring honour to him.

To the man who lived up to the meaning of his name: ‘big purpose’.

The man who had the courage to follow God and let Him use him for His ‘ministry of reconciliation’.

Your life’s work has inspired us and now we need to keep drawing on your example as we try to find our own way out of moments of darkness.

From today on, let us all take heart and also strive to be a light, just like our newest Freeman of the City, Archbishop Ndungane.

I thank you. God bless.

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