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Rev Dale White (1934 - )

The Order of the Baobab in

Rev Dale White (1934 - ) Awarded for:
His excellent contribution and commitment to the objectives of the Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre to provide and create space for a multiracial, equitable and non-discriminatory interaction and philosophy in the face of the institutionalization of the apartheid ideology post the 1948 election.

Profile of Rev Dale White

Rev Dale White was born on 30 July 1934. He grew up in a church orphanage because his father was not allowed by his parents to marry his pregnant girlfriend. He never met his father who was sent abroad. His mother, who was not healthy, had to earn a living, and saw no alternative but to entrust him to the orphanage.

After completing matric, White went to the University of Cape Town to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree. Thereafter he went to St Paul College for theological training. In 1956, at the age of 22, he was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church and placed as curate in Krugersdorp (now Mogale City). Three years later he was assigned to the Western Coloured Township, opposite the destroyed Sophiatown, where coloured people from all over Johannesburg had been relocated. He also started to work in Soweto, serving the congregation of Trevor Huddleston that had also been forcefully removed from Sophiatown to Meadowlands. These experiences strengthened his resolve in siding with the victims of apartheid.

It was at the orphanage where he picked up a basic sense for justice and the inner urge to defend the weak and vulnerable that would be with him for the rest of his life.

This philosophical attitude to life would enable him to play a vital role in uplifting the lives of others and doing everything in his power to see that justice was done.

He incorporated the basic tenets of his religious belief into his material existence, thus living out his beliefs on a daily basis.

In 1965, the Rev White was assigned by the Anglican Church to become director of Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre in Roodepoort, an ecumenical institution established in the crucial year 1948 to create a safe haven for multiracial inspiration, training and action in an increasingly divided church and society. In the same year, he borrowed money for a wedding ring and married Laetitia (popularly known as Tish) Keyter, an isiZulu-speaking daughter of an Afrikaner with a deep commitment not to let apartheid control her life or the lives of others.

Together with a very dedicated staff, Dale and Tish White made Wilgespruit a true resource centre, a safe place for whomever was in need of solidarity and empowerment. In the course of time, a wide range of programmes were developed: leadership training, women empowerment, industrial mission, self-help projects, black consciousness, conflict resolution, mediation, among others.

The Rev White was executive director of Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre (1965 to 1993); a priest at various Anglican congregations in Soweto (1957 onwards); Executive Trustees: Fellow Trust (1984 to 1999); special pensions board member: Government of South Africa (1997); chairperson of St Gregory’s College, Kwa-Zulu Natal (1992 to 1996); executive committee member of the South African Council of Churches (1984 to 1988); United Religion’s initiative – South African representative since 1997; member of the Council of Parliament of World Religions since 1999; and chairperson of the Interdenominational Committee for Industrial Mission (1968 to 1988).

The Rev White dedicated his life to the cause of justice for all humanity. From very humble and difficult beginnings he became a pillar of his community. Believing in the innate ability of humanity, he lent a helping hand to others within his reach. Not only did he challenge the injustices of apartheid, but also used whatever opportunity he had to bring warmth, love and fulfilment to people around him.

The Rev Dale White is now retired. He stays with his wife Laetitia, their two daughters, Natasha and Anastasia, and their two grandchildren, Christopher and Olwami, at Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre, Roodepoort.