A man of the people
Winner—Drivers of Change: Individual Award: Archbishop Njongo Ndungane
Archbishop Njongo Ndungane’s faith has urged him to spread more than the gospel. For many years he has lobbied for affordable Aids medication in South Africa and highlighted the shortcomings in debt-relief strategies that inherently disadvantage Africa.
‘He is an undisputed champion for social justice and equality. His service to Southern Africa is an inspiration to many,” noted the Drivers of Change judges.
In 2006 Ndungane launched African Monitor, a pan-African not-for-profit organisation that monitors and promotes the effective implementation of the promises made by the international community and Africa’s own governments towards the continent’s development.
‘It became clear that commitments made to the continent were not properly delivered,” he says. Through his African Monitor initiative he has highlighted the fact that, despite receiving nearly US$40-billion in aid flows in 2008, African countries still face a serious challenge to bring about economic and social development.
African Monitor focuses on donor commitments made since 2005, particularly those falling under the African Union and other regional groups. The year 2005, also known as ‘the year for Africa” by the international community, was selected as a baseline because that was when donors made commitments to increase aid to the continent.
‘We hold them accountable and monitor delivery by African governments on the receiving end, because it is their primary responsibility to serve their people, ” says Ndungane.
Buhle Makamanzi, communications spokesperson at African Monitor, says the archbishop has fully used the power of his position to call on people from around the world to join in transformation ‘to ensure that the poor, too, enjoy the rights they are entitled to”.
This year African Monitor launched a food forum. ‘Food security is key on our continent, so agriculture is a critical sector for Africa’s development,” says Ndungane.
At age 50 the archbishop shows no signs of slowing down. He has recently been asked by the government to champion the restoration of historic schools. ‘These are schools that were mainly run by churches and destroyed by apartheid, like Morris Isaacson and Orlando High,” he says.
The judges noted that Ndungane seeks change in a practical way. In 2008, for instance, he led poverty hearings in South Africa’s nine provinces and has taken the testimony of impoverished communities to the highest levels of influence in government.
‘Archbishop Ndungane is unwavering in his commitment to ensure that a better Africa, and a better world, is achieved,” the judges said. ‘From the World Economic Forum in Davos to community halls in South Africa’s impoverished townships, he remains resolute in his commitment to eradicate poverty.”
In 1963 Ndungane was arrested for his involvement in anti-pass law demonstrations while he was a student at the University of Cape Town. The arrest encouraged him to become actively involved in anti-apartheid politics.
He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on Robben Island and it was while serving as a political prisoner that he received his calling to serve God in the ordained ministry.
He has been awarded several honorary degrees, including a doctorate of divinity from Rhodes University in 1997, a doctorate of divinity from the Protestant Episcopal Seminary in 2000 and a doctorate of social science from the University of Natal in 2001.
The judges applauded the archbishop for his tireless efforts to drive change in the way leadership is exercised in Africa.
‘He is a greatly respected man who has dedicated his life to overcoming poverty. For his lifelong commitment to place the poor at the centre of social and economic policies, the judges recognise him as a driver of change,” they said.