2000• Social Justice Award

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Brigalia Ntombemhlope Bam has given strong and wise leadership in the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa.  She has done pioneering work in the struggle against racism and sexism, both in South Africa and internationally. 

Brigalia is currently chair of the Independent Electoral Commission.  Appointed by then President Nelson Mandela in February 1999, she expressed a commitment to “fight for every South African to exercise their right to vote. 

Democracy has to take root in each and every corner of the country,” she said.  “We will work with all organs of civil society, including churches and non-governmental organisations to build strong strategic partnerships to ensure that every South African is able to exercise their democratic right to register and vote in the elections.”

Born in Transkei, Brigalia was educated in South Africa, Chicago and Geneva, specializing in teaching, social work, communications and management. 

Ms. Bam has worked as a teacher, health educator, served on several boards and trusts, and organized 20 international conferences and consultations.  She also lectures, does radio and television interviews, fund-raising projects, and continues to speak out against sexism.

She is the recipient of a number of honourary doctorates and awards, from the University of Durban-Westville, Victoria University (Toronto), and the University of Transkei.

She has served on the Human Rights Commission and was vice-chair of the SA Broadcasting Board.

Brigalia was appointed to the Independent Electoral Commission when it was formed in 1997 and was vice-chair before being asked to become chair.  Ms. Bam is a devout Anglican and was deputy and then general secretary of the South African Council of Churches from 1988 to 1998. 

Her wisdom, experience and integrity are much in demand as she speaks out in areas such as human rights, development and truth and reconciliation.