Rev John Osmers has passed away – one of the titans of the anti-apartheid struggle


It’s been a very sad day today with the passing of Rev John Osmers – a man of tremendous courage, passion and faith. He died in Lusaka, Zambia of heart failure at age 85.

John was a New Zealander who became an Anglican priest and in a priestly role joined the anti-apartheid struggle in Southern Africa.

From 1970 he was exiled from South Africa by the regime for his anti-apartheid activities and was then based in Lusaka, Zambia where he worked closely with other African National Congress (ANC) exiles.

In 1979 he was sent a parcel bomb by the South African Security Forces. The bomb was in a parcel of ANC magazines he was opening. He lost his right hand in the explosion but never lost his drive and enthusiasm for the struggle for justice in South Africa and internationally.

He did a speaking tour of New Zealand in the leadup to the 1981 Springbok Tour and when the film PATU! is shown at the international film festival later this year John can be seen addressing one of the huge rallies which preceded the tour.

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More recently John has been working to support education and options for students, both locals and refugees, in Lusaka despite failing eyesight and declining health.

This is a photo from 2016 on one of his visits to New Zealand. It was a privilege to know this man.

Haere ra e hoa – haere, haere, haere.



  1. Rev John was one of those dedicated people that genuinely gave hope that there is good intent and useful endeavour in humans despite the daily horrors of this world.

  2. WOW!, @John Minto ,… this man was indeed a man worthy of respect. Its one of the reasons why I keep endorsing not only certain of the center left/ left wing but also those among both Catholic and Protestant faiths and try to colorfully quote scripture underlying the very heart of the affair. There are absolute lions of men and women in all walks of life. This man was one of them.

    His right hand blown off by a parcel bomb planted by ‘security thugs’. All because of his faith and his good heart.

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown was a book I read early on. It impacted me greatly.

    • Yes I met John Osmers a number of times, a good man indeed.

      Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, everyone should read that book – especially those who live in the U.S.


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