Celebrating The Life & Legacy Of The Rt. Reverend Bishop David Russell

Celebrating The Life & Legacy Of The Rt. Reverend Bishop David Russell

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, representatives of the Steve Biko Foundation and mourners from around the world gathered to pay tribute to the Rt. Reverend Bishop David Russell.


A lifelong activist, Bishop Russell, who passed away on August 17th, 2014 after a long battle with cancer, was a friend of Steve Biko and many others fighting apartheid. His support assisted the Black Consciousness Movement in carrying out a number of projects, particularly those facilitated by the Black Community Programmes.


Among Russell’s many acts of defiance was when on August 8th, 1977 he laid down in front of trucks and bulldozers to protest against forced removals from Modderdam in the Western Cape, an area declared “whites only”. He was forcibly dragged by police and arrested as an “enemy of the state”. The apartheid regime served him with a five-year banning order on October 1977 restricting him to Cape Town.


Defying these banning orders, and found in possession of a book – Biko – by Donald Woods, he was sentenced in 1980 to a one year jail sentence. He denounced apartheid injustices and the arrests of anti-apartheid activists as vicious and pointed out that such kind of injustices filled people with “revulsion, bitterness and anger”.


Later in life, Bishop Russell was a founding member of the Steve Biko Foundation’s Board of Trustees and served in this role from 1998 – 2009. In recognition of his contribution to the liberation struggle and ongoing pursuit of social justice, Russell was nominated for a national order by the Foundation, and subsequently conferred with the Order of Baobab in Silver by President Jacob Zuma.


While saddened by his passing, the Foundation celebrates the enormous contribution Bishop Russell made to the South African liberation struggle and development at large. “He will always be remembered for his role in fighting apartheid, and the memory of his contributions will continue to inspire coming generations”, said SBF CEO Nkosinathi Biko.


According to the Steve Biko Foundation’s Director, Ms Obenewa Amponsah, “Bishop Russell was an ardent advocate of human rights and his concern for the rights of women was an important aspect of his ministry. Even in retirement he remained an outspoken advocate for inclusivity”. A staunch advocate for social justice and as one who stood firmly on the side of the oppressed, Bishop David Russell will not only be missed by the Steve Biko Foundation, but friends and communities throughout South Africa and the international community.


Phumla Ngoxolo Bishop

For more information on the Steve Biko Foundation please contact Thando Sipuye via email: tsipuye@sbf.org.za or call on 011 403 0310.

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