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Man Alive: Beyers Naudé

It was religious programming that didn't preach. When Man Alive debuted on Sunday afternoons in 1967, its non-denominational, magazine-style approach differed from any other religion-based program in CBC history. After two seasons, the CBC-TV program moved to a weeknight, becoming North America's only prime time program focusing on religious issues. Over the years, Man Alive featured an eclectic range of topics — from marriage, to apartheid, to UFOs. Roy Bonisteel was host from 1967 until he retired in 1989, after which hosts included Peter Downie, Arthur Kent and R.H. Thompson, who hosted until the program's end in 2000.

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Beyers Naudé was once a believer in apartheid, South Africa's national program of racial segregation. Like most white Afrikaners of his era, he was raised that way. But the horrors of 1960's Sharpeville massacre changed his thinking -- and now, in 1973, he's a leader in the anti-apartheid movement. This has led to ostracism from his Afrikaner community. "But I'm convinced that this is a price which one has to pay for convictions sincerely held," says the Christian leader in this 1973 episode of Man Alive.
• Because of his role in the struggle to end apartheid, the South African government deemed Naudé to be a "banned person" in 1977, which was essentially a form of house arrest that limited his ability to interact with others.

• His ban was lifted in 1984. In 1985, he succeeded Archbishop Desmond Tutu as Chairman of the South African Council of Churches.

• When Naudé passed away in 2004, the South African government held an official state funeral. President Thabo Mbeki spoke at the service, hailing Naudé as a key figure in South African history: "Sacrifices he made guaranteed us our peace and reconciliation because they told those who might have sought vengeance that the Afrikaner people are not their enemies, because Beyers Naudé was not their enemy but their comrade, friend and leader." 

• In 2004, a television program aired in South Africa called Great South Africans (modelled after the BBC's Great Britons series, which also inspired CBC's The Greatest Canadian). Based on an informal nationwide poll, Beyers Naudé came in at number 36 on the list of greatest South Africans.

Medium: Television
Program: Man Alive
Broadcast Date: Dec. 4, 1972
Guest: Beyers Naudé
Duration: 23:54

Last updated: March 3, 2014

Page consulted on December 12, 2014

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