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UKZN Press

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Excerpt from Denis Hurley Biography by Paddy Kearney

Denis Hurley: Truth to PowerGuardian of the Light: Denis HurleyThe Archbishop Denis Hurley website has shared an excerpt from the biography Guardian of the Light: Denis Hurley: Renewing the Church, Opposing Apartheid by Paddy Kearney.

The extract describes Hurley’s childhood on Robben Island, where his father was the lighthouse keeper, and recounts his brief aspiration to be a convict, as they got to ride on a mule cart. A new abridged version of Guardian of the Light, titled Denis Hurley: Truth to Power, has just been released by UKZN Press.

After a few years at Cape Point, Denis‟s father‟s next appointment was to another of South Africa‟s famous lighthouses, Robben Island, to which he was transferred in 1918. The family sailed there from Table Bay harbour on a small steamer named Pieter Faure. The island, is now internationally famous because for decades it was the location of a maximum security prison for political prisoners, the most notable of them, Nelson Mandela.

Over the years the island has been used for various purposes, but at the time the Hurleys lived there, from 1918 to 1923, it had a mental hospital, a leper asylum and a big prison for black convicts serving long sentences. There were Anglican and Catholic churches, a school, a library, sports fields, tennis courts and recreation halls, a police force and a fire brigade which made a big impact on the children.

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