Anti-Apartheid Activist Father Michael Lapsley Discusses Apartheid, Occupation, and Reconciliation

May 01, 2002

In 1990, three months after the release of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, the ruling De Klerk Government sent anti-apartheid activist Father Michael Lapsley a parcel containing two magazines. Inside one of them was a highly sophisticated bomb. When Lapsley opened the magazine, the explosion brought down ceilings in the house and blew a hole in the floors and shattered windows. It blew off both of the priest’s hands, destroyed one eye and burned him severely.

Michael Lapsley joined the African National Congress in the mid-1970s, after being expelled from South Africa for his activism. He served for many years as the ANC’s chaplain in exile, struggling with the tension between his commitment to pacifism and his commitment to resistance against apartheid.

Today Michael Lapsley is the director of the Institute for Healing of Memories.


  • Father Michael Lapsley, director of the Institute for Healing of Memories. Previously he worked at the Trauma Center for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, which is assisting the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

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