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David Jacobus Bosch (Posthumous)

The Order of the Baobab in

David Jacobus Bosch (Posthumous) Awarded for:
For his selfless struggle for equality in segregated churches and society in general and his dedication to community upliftment. By doing so, he lived the values of non-racialism against the mainstream of his own culture.

Profile of David Jacobus Bosch

David Jacobus Bosch lived by the courage of his convictions. Brought up in an environment that encouraged racial separation, Bosch stood his ground and worked tirelessly to promote inclusiveness of races and equality.

He was born on 13 December 1929 in Kuruman in the Northern Cape. And grew up in a Christian home as a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. In 1948, he studied education at the University of Pretoria, where he joined the Student Christian Association (SCA). While attending an SCA camp, he decided to become a missionary and when he visited his parents’ farm that summer, he organised a Sunday service for the black labourers. A large crowd of black workers gathered and to his surprise he discovered they were all confessing Christians. From then on, he relentlessly questioned the apartheid system.

In 1957, Bosch started working as a missionary pastor with the Dutch Reformed Church in Madwaleni in the then Transkei. In 1967, he took up a position as lecturer of church history and Missiology at the Dutch Reformed Church’s Theological School, where black church leaders were trained. During this time, he built ties with the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches and was a co-founder of the Council of Churches in the Transkei.

Since Bosch rebuked the Dutch Reformed Church for biblically supporting apartheid, the church regarded him with suspicion. In 1971, he left the seminary in the Transkei to become a Professor of Missiology at the University of South Africa (Unisa) in Pretoria, which at the time was South Africa’s only interracial university.

As Chairman of the South African Christian Leadership Assembly (SACLA) he helped coordinate a gathering of more than 5 000 South African Christians from all racial groups as a demonstration of the church as a community embodying the Kingdom of God.

Bosch had the courage of his conviction to work against the mainstream of his own culture, and in 1982, he organised a petition in the form of an open letter to the Dutch Reformed Church publicly condemning apartheid. More than 100 pastors and theologians signed the petition.

Bosch was regarded as a prophet among the people. Along with his vast knowledge of Biblical studies, Theology, Church History, and Missiology, he had the rare ability to distil the insight and wisdom to meet the demands of the day. His broad sympathies with all parts of the Christian family and his gifts of communication made him a trusted and respected friend wherever he went. He was fluent in Xhosa, Afrikaans, Dutch, German and English, and lectured widely in Europe, Britain, and North America.

Regrettably, on 15 April 1992 at the age of 62, Bosch died in a car accident. His greatest wish would have been that the process of change would continue even today, until all South Africans were indeed free and equal.