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Anne Hope – a woman of substance in anti-apartheid movement

Published Dec 29, 2015


Sally Timmel

Anne Hope (February 12, 1930 – December 26, 2015)

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Anne Hope, co-author and founder of the classic Training for Transformation books and training programmes, has passed on in an interfaith intentional community in Claremont, California.

Anne Hope was born and grew up in Johannesburg. She attended Rhodes University in Grahamstown and obtained a degree in English literature and history. She then received her Master’s degree in education from Oxford University in England. During her university days, she immersed herself in the Catholic Student Movement and not only became convinced of the horrors of apartheid, but became more and more committed both emotionally and spiritually to the struggle for liberation.

In the late 1940s, Anne kept meeting members of the international Grail at student conferences. She became intrigued with this lay women’s Catholic movement and soon was invited to be part of the Grail community for a year at their centre in Loveland, Ohio, outside Cincinnati.

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The one year turned into four years where she became part of the staff. Anne then went to teach and also be the headmistress of the first high school for girls in Uganda in Kalasizo. This was where Anne first became passionately committed to working with women’s groups and community development. Anne returned to South Africa and was soon appointed president of the Grail in South Africa.

In 1969, Anne was awarded a World Council of Churches scholarship to study at Boston University in adult education and human relations training. It was there that she met me, doing the same course. Anne had heard of the brilliant work of Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator who developed a methodology called conscientisation (or critical awareness).

Paulo had come to Harvard University at that time to be at the Institute for Social Analysis. Anne and I then began integrating the critical analysis approach of Paulo into participatory methods. They applied some of these tools in anti-racism work through the USA National YWCA, which at that time had taken on a One Imperative: to eliminating racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary. Anne and I developed and ran a number of workshops called White on White (as racism is a “white problem”).

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Anne returned to South Africa in 1971 when her USA visa ran out and I joined her in neighbouring Swaziland. There we helped develop a literacy programme with a Swazi NGO supported by Unesco. After nine months the South African police caught up with us and we were made prohibited immigrants.

Anne began working with the Christian Institute, a prophetic witness that proclaimed apartheid a sin against humanity.

During this time Anne was asked by Steve Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, to work with their leadership for six months on participatory methods of Paulo Freire. Soon after the training most of the leadership was imprisoned and she was advised to go into exile to continue the work or face imprisonment. Later, Steve said that there were two people who shaped his life – a nun in 6th grade and Anne Hope.

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This was the essence of Anne: she brought out the best side of a person – through encouragement, delight, affirmation and challenge. Her vision and intuitions were something one could not ignore as they were spot on.

Her challenges were constructive but brutally honest.

One year after her return to South Africa, the apartheid government seized Anne’s passport and later denied her entrance back into her homeland for 17 years. Fortunately she had an Irish grandmother, which was sufficient grounds to get an Irish passport for those years in exile.

Anne and I again teamed up and began working for the Kenyan Catholic Bishop’s Conference through the Development Department.

Working in the then 10 of 13 dioceses, we trained over 500 community development leadership who, in turn, within 10 years reached over 3 million people in multi-faceted projects – from literacy, women and youth groups and agriculture to ranching groups.

In 1981, Anne and I moved to Washington DC, where Anne worked first with the US Returned Missionary Association and then the Jesuit Centre of Concern. Anne also returned to southern Africa to work with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. I joined her for a year, where they wrote and had published their classic books called Training for Transformation. These four volumes still sell quite broadly and have been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic.

When the apartheid government announced in February 1991 that exiles could return, Anne came back to take up a temporary post at the UCT Adult Education Department.

She moved on to initiate a women’s training programme, DELTA, and founded the Grail in the Western Cape.

In 1999, with Anne’s leadership the Grail purchased a residential retreat and conference centre in Kleinmond and three years later developed a one-year in-service Training for Transformation Diploma course for international teams of women.

More than 350 people have graduated from this programme and it continues to go from strength to strength. Participants come from as far as Indonesia, Papua, Korea, India, Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, the UK and most southern African countries.

Anne was a global citizen and activist par excellence, with an ability to see a positive “way out” of the quagmires of injustices. Her insights and voice came from the deep core of her being as she tried to act on these essential elements of goodness, truth and beauty.

This core was nurtured by an incredible self-discipline of daily meditation, yoga and reading for two hours before rising. Her spirit will continue to inspire generations to come.

l Sally Timmel and Anne Hope together shaped the Training for Transformation work over the past 46 years. Sally grew up in the US, worked with the YWCA on anti-racism programmes and was a lobbyist in Washington DC with the churches that included SA sanctions. In South Africa she founded the Gender Advocacy Programme, Fair Share (an economic literacy programme now housed at UWC), and co-founded with Anne the Grail Conference and Retreat Centre, a job training centre called Mthimkhulu (both located in Kleinmond), and the international training programme of Training for Transformation.

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