Methodist minister Brian Brown was administrative director of the Christian Institute of Southern Africa when it and he were banned in 1977 by the apartheid regime. He was involved in the Institute’s opposition to apartheid and civil religion, its engagement with Black Consciousness, and its calls for civil disobedience and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
In exile Brian held appointments as Africa Secretary of the British Council of Churches and the Methodist Missionary Society where he continued to promote his belief in the indivisibility of freedom.
All South Africans under the age of 21 in 2015 belong to the ‘Born Frees’ – those who knew not apartheid. In recounting his journey Brian offers fascinating insights as to how pressures from both within and without South Africa contributed to the generation of Born Frees. His faith-inspired belief in freedom’s indivisibility was one he shared with notable activists – Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Beyers Naudé, all of whom get their chapter.
The author’s demolition of the revisionist argument that constructive engagement policies ended apartheid is a notable contribution to truth. As is his analysis of the efficacy of BDS and of the power to transform societies through non-violent direct action. The similarities of today’s Israel with apartheid’s dispossession of ‘the other’ are clearly drawn.
Although Brian’s pilgrimage is unapologetically Christian, it is inclusive of all who share in the pursuit of justice and freedom. With religious and secular partners he engaged in the overcoming of institutionalised racism, in international relief and development crises, in conflict resolution on two continents and in the surprising growth of ethical investment.
Both faithful and flawed church pursuits are recalled as the author ‘tells it like it is’. Theological reflections are from the perspective of the oppressed, ever challenging the establishment. In retirement this ‘evangelical liberal’ continues to engage in the struggle for values dear to the revelation of Jesus.
A remarkable blend of theological, spiritual, pastoral and political reflections, written with passion.., charm and wit. He remains a spirit-filled activist.. whose memoir is hard to put down. John Pritchard, former General Secretary of the Methodist Missionary Society in the UK.
When South Africa went through the eye of the needle – the struggle for freedom – this white patriot stood up and was willing to be counted.. [He] shines an incisive light on new elements of resistance not yet revealed. Horst Kleinschmidt, former Director of the International Defence and Aid Fund
[He] does not look like a revolutionary but is..a radical and fearless disciple of Jesus. He confronted the apartheid Special Branch, corrupt Nigerian officials, the British establishment and the combatants of the Sierra Leone civil war with unflinching moral courage. The Rev. Dr. John Parkin in 'The Irish Methodist Newsletter'.
Brian and Marion had the joyous opportunity of launching the book in Birmingham in early October. They had so much fun meeting new and old friends and signing books that they decided to repeat the exercise at their old haunts in Yorkshire, Johannesburg and Cape Town in November!
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