By Timoteus Mashuna
IN tribute to Trevor Huddleston, the world’s renowned South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu commented that Huddleston was one of the children of the international community, who “made sure that apartheid got onto the world agenda and stayed there”.
Reiterating the role Huddleston played in the struggle against the apartheid system, Tutu is further quoted in the biographic collection of the National Archives of Namibia as saying,“If you could say that anybody single-handedly made apartheid a world issue, then that was Huddleston.”
Huddleston was an anti-apartheid campaigner, born on June 15, 1913, at Bedford in England. He attended the world public school of Lancing and later pursued his tertiary education at Oxford University.
In 1937, he was ordained after attending Wells Theological College and later on he was posted to work in an impoverished settlement near Johannesburg in South Africa.
Upon coming to South Africa, Huddleston began the struggle to alleviate poverty affecting black communities in the slums. However, he also took it upon himself to fight against apartheid policies that did not only oppress the black majority, but also systematically impoverished black communities in South Africa.
He detested the apartheid regime and all he wanted was its downfall. To narrate his displeasure of the apartheid regime, sources citing from his publication entitled, “Naught For Your Comfort” note that Huddleston in that publication stated: “There is not time to be lost in breaking the present government. I am convinced.” His opposing views against the apartheid regime later led to his expulsion from South Africa.
Nonetheless, by the late 1960s, apartheid was already an international issue and a number of solidarity movements against apartheid begun to emerge throughout Europe, as well as in the Americas.
In Britain, Huddleston helped to found the British Anti-apartheid Movement in 1959, which became instrumental particularly in fighting for sanctions against the apartheid government in the 1970s. His dedication and commitment in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa eventually earned him a position as president of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement in 1981.
He toured the world lobbying leaders and raising funds to support liberation movements in Southern Africa. In 1982, he received the United Nations Gold Medal Award for his work.
Huddleston is a true African hero whose love for the African continent and its people was immeasurable. He expressed his solidarity towards Africa and her people through his prayer for Africa: “God bless Africa, guard her people, guide her leaders and give them peace, for Jesus Christ’s sake.”
His support for the liberation of Sothern Africa did not go unnoticed by many African leaders. The first democratically elected South African President, Nelson Mandela, is reported to have said that Huddleston “forsook all that apartheid South Africa offered the privileged minority and did so at great risk to his personal safety and wellbeing”.
Similarly, a tribute to Huddleston by the current speaker of the Namibian National Assembly, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, acknowledges Huddleston for his “undaunted leadership on the battlefield of sanctions against the apartheid regime and the international campaign for the release of Comrade Nelson Mandela and Herman Toivo Ya Toivo”.
Gurirab further added that besides the long-standing friendship that Huddleston shared with African leaders, such as the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma, and Oliver Tambo of the African National Congress (ANC), he was also a “great human being, full of energy, with an indomitable spirit and above all, a man of action”. He died at the age of 84 on the 20th of April 1998.