The University of the Western Cape (UWC) conferred an honorary doctorate on Anglican priest Father Alan Michael Lapsley for his contribution to social justice.
Father Lapsley, 68, who was honoured during a ceremony on Monday April 10, is the director of the Institute of Healing Memories and vice president of the South African Council of Churches.
He was born in New Zealand and ordained to the priesthood in Australia.
In 1973, he arrived in Durban, as an undergraduate student. During the height of apartheid, he became chaplain to students at both black and white universities in Durban. In 1976, he began to speak out on behalf of schoolchildren who were being shot, detained and tortured.
In September 1976, he was expelled from the country. He went to live in Lesotho, where he joined the ANC and served as its chaplain.
During this period he travelled the world, mobilising faith communities, in particular, to oppose apartheid and support the liberation struggle. He returned to South Africa in 1992.
More than 4 000 students from seven faculties have graduated during UWC’s autumn graduation week, which started on Wednesday April 5 and ends today, Thursday April 13 – including 50 doctoral degrees, 203 masters degrees, 635 honours degrees, 2 599 undergraduate degrees, 349 diplomas and 369 certificates.
UWC rector and vice-chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius said he was proud to be able to join the graduating students for such a joyous occasion.
“Graduation represents the most visible evidence of our successes and achievements,” he said.
Education should produce well-rounded individuals who not only excelled in their field of expertise, but were socially conscious individuals with the urge to contribute to the development of humanity.
“Your graduation is the culmination of many years of hard work and sacrifice,” he said.
“Cherish the moment and celebrate your achievements – and continue to make us proud as you design the next chapter of your life.”