2012 Memorial Lecture and Neil Aggett Award

The annual Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture was delivered at Kingswood this morning by the Reverend Professor Barney Pityana, Rector of the College of the Transfiguration in Grahamstown. A prominent lawyer and theologian, Rev Pityana was nurtured in the anti-apartheid and liberation politics of South Africa, having served with Steve Biko as founders of the Black Consciousness Movement.  This was the seventh lecture in the series of Neil Aggett Memorial lectures held in the school chapel each year on Heritage Day.

In a thought-provoking address, Rev Pityana sought to understand the reasons behind the courage and choices made by people like Neil Aggett, Steve Biko, Rick Turner and Nelson Mandela.  "They chose a path of defiance and revolution, and the clarity of vision of an alternative society.  I believe that those like Rick Turner, Steve Biko and Neil Aggett knew that to be human meant that they had to live in the freedom they believed and never compromise their own humanity by succumbing to fear and appropriating the irrationality that engulfed society", he said.

Saying that ANC government needed to address the quality of leadership that it offers the people of South Africa, Dr Pityana asked what the sacrifices made by Neil Aggett and others had achieved.  "I believe they have provided this nation with a Constitution that exudes hope for our country, one that recognizes that we are a multi-dimensional society and that our critical consciousness is the best defence against the irrationality of power. It presents us not with a ready-made, off-the-shelf society, but one which, with eternal vigilance, we must defend and construct daily," he said.

Rev Pityana commended Kingswood on the memorial lecture series, saying that it not only told the story of the life of a former pupils of the schools whose critical intelligence defined his life and destiny, but that it sought to understand the character-formation that shapes the lives of ordinary people.  For a copy of Rev Pityana's lecture, click here.

Following the lecture, Rev Pityana handed over the Neil Aggett Award to Kingswood matric pupil, Jason Woodley.  Jason was recognised in a citation read by College Head, Mr Jon Trafford, for his investment in serving his school and the broader community and his courage, sense of justice and willingness to embrace those who have less.  "He is an example to others for the compassion and caring shown for this fellow man", Mr Trafford said.  Jason is the second recipient of the award which was established in 2011 by the Kingswood Class of 1970, of which Neil Aggett was a member.  Aggett's former classmates wanted the award made annually to a Kingswood pupil who had shown exceptional courage and service.  Jason comes from Zambia, and is the son of Julie and Andrew Woodley from Fringilla Farm.

Jason receives the Neil Aggett Award in the Chapel this morning from Rev Pityana (far right) and Mr Trafford.

Jason with the Maureen Quin bronze sculpture that is the trophy for the Neil Aggett Award, and his certificate.

Mrs Diana Hornby, Chairman of the College Council, Rev Barney Pityana, Jason Woodley, Mr Trafford and Mr Zweli Mbenyana, proud Housemaster of Wood House who nominated Jason for the Neil Aggett Award.

Rev Pityana chats to Kingswood pupils after delivering the Neil Aggett Memorial Lecture.

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