Rev George Wauchope was born in South Africa. He joined the South African Student Organisation (SASO) while studying at the University of Fort Hare in the early 1970s, and went on to join the Black People’s Convention (BPC). After BPC was banned in 1977 by Jimmy Kruger, then Minister of Justice and Police, he became the first publicity secretary of the newly formed Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO).
Wauchope shot to prominence in his role as publicity secretary during AZAPO’s cultural boycott campaign, which sought to isolate the oppressive regime from international sport, entertainment and related activities. He spearheaded opposition to tours by artists such as the O’Jays, Ray Charles, Champion Jack Dupree and others.
As a result of his activism, the entire Wauchope family became involved in the struggle for liberation, leading to numerous arrests and detentions – of Wauchope, his mother, siblings and even nephews and nieces.
During the period of internecine violence between AZAPO and the United Democratic Front (UDF), Wauchope was arrested for a gun related offence. He skipped bail and in February 1989 fled to Zimbabwe as a political refugee. Wauchope trained for the ministry in Zimbabwe and went on to become the Dean of Studies at the Bishop Gaul Anglican Theological College in Harare. During his stay in Harare he completed his theological studies, and was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church, ministering to Anglicans in both Zimbabwe and Botswana.
With the return of the exiles in 1994, Wauchope was unable to return since a warrant for his arrest was issued for the “gun incident”. Mosibudi Mangena, the former South African Minister of Science and Technology, at the behest of AZAPO, met successive Ministers of Safety and Security and of Justice to seek ways of helping Wauchope to return home. While they all understood the political and moral dilemma presented by his continued exile, they had no legal power to interfere with a warrant that awaited execution.
Most suggested that he return to be arrested and clear his name through the courts. This option became difficult as he had been diagnosed with cancer.
To the suggestion that he “confess his deeds” to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to enable him to get a pardon so that he could come back home, Wauchope insisted that he had nothing to declare as he had been framed. He maintained that only people who had committed gross human rights violations should submit to the TRC.
Rev Wauchope left Harare in 2002 and went to Botswana, where he served as a parish priest and wasthe Rector of Francistown and Archdeacon of Northern Botswana.He joined the Queens Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in 2007 as tutor for mission education in the Selly Oak Centre for Mission Studies (SOCMS) in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England. He also taught an MA course at SOCMS, and led the training and preparation course for Mission Companions and Methodist Mission Partners, as well as training volunteers in the Methodist-run Experience Exchange Programme.
He died after a long struggle with cancer on 26 May 2011 in Birmingham, England, where he was cremated.
• Anon, (2011), USPG mourns death of ‘soldier for justice’ George Wauchope from Christian Today, 4 June [online] Available at www.christiantoday.com [Accessed 14 June 2011]
• Mangena, M (2011), The George Wauchope Heartbreak, from the Azanian People’s Organisation, 3 June, [online] Available at www.azapo.org.za [Accessed 14 June 2011]
• Van Wyk, E, (2011), Obituary: Exiled former Azapo leader dies in England, from the City Press, 29 May, [online] Available at www.citypress.co.za [Accessed 17 June 2011]
• African Development Forum, ADF Afronomics Summit - A-Z Biographies from African Development Forum, [online] Available at www.africandevelopmentforum.org [Accessed 14 June 2011]
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