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Archbishop Khotso Makhulu (United Kingdom (UK))

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

Archbishop Khotso Makhulu (United Kingdom (UK)) Awarded for:
His courageous contribution to the fight for liberation. He followed his calling and lived the ideals of lending a helping hand to his fellow human beings. He provided refuge, comfort and family to young activists arriving in exile to join the South African liberation struggle.
Archbishop Khotso Makhulu was born in Johannesburg, brought up in Pimville and trained for the Anglican priesthood at St Peter’s Seminary in Rosettenville.

He was ordained as a priest in 1958 and served in Orlando East before being deployed to Francistown, Botswana. He went for further training at the Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham in the UK.

Makhulu was prevented by the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 from returning to live in South Africa after his marriage to Rosemary, an English church worker. He went on to rise to the highest levels of achievement in the church in Africa and the world.

Apart from serving as President of both the All-Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), he was named by the former Archbishop Robert Runcie as a credible candidate to succeed him as Archbishop of Canterbury and thus head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Since he was a young priest, he had had a particular concern for refugees and the victims of oppression and has fearlessly ministered to them at the risk of his and his family’s lives.

When he was a priest in Francistown, Botswana in the early 1960s, and activists left South Africa and Namibia to go into exile, he gave them refuge, food and clothing, eventually raising enough money through Mary Benson and Margaret Legum in London to buy a house in which to accommodate them.

The house was divided into three sections – one for the African National Congress, one for the Pan Africanist Congress and one for the South West African People’s Organisation – and the exiles dubbed it “The White House”.

In Geneva, Makhulu headed up a desk of the WCC which took care of the needs of African refugees fleeing conflict zones on the continent. Back in Southern Africa,61 while serving as President of the Nairobi-based AACC, he invited the liberation movements into closer relations with the churches.

As Bishop of Botswana, he continued his ministry to South African refugees at a time when apartheid military forces were launching raids into Botswana and attacking exiles and those who gave them support.

He raised money from abroad to help the victims of apartheid. For more than a decade from 1980, he clandestinely funnelled between US$170 000 and US$425 000 a year from the Norwegian Government and churches to institutions and individuals in South Africa with the objective of providing legal, educational, medical and other humanitarian assistance.

For this work, the Norwegians called him – in a book on his work – “the Church’s Secret Agent”. In the performance of this work, just as in Francistown and Geneva, and as President of both the AACC and WCC, he insisted on a non-partisan approach, ensuring that all liberation movements were treated equally.