The roots of Scientology in South Africa date back more than 55 years, when Founder L. Ron Hubbard first visited Johannesburg. This was the height of apartheid in South Africa—a practice he deemed “a fascist arrogance”—and Mr. Hubbard planted the seed of human rights on behalf of all Southern African people, writing a Bill of Rights and a constitution that called for “one man, one vote,” regardless of race, colour or creed. During that time, he advanced the technology of Scientology, gave lectures, visited the Soweto township and Leeuwkop prison and worked with people of all races. In 1960, he wrote, “Man was not made to be a slave, either in South Africa, Africa, Asia or Moscow. The politicians have failed. Humanitarians have always won.”
He made a lasting impression on many, including his staff, who remembered a man who treated all races equally. Before he returned to England, Mr. Hubbard was immortalised by famed sculptor Coert Steynberg, whose statue of Paul Kruger adorns the entrance of Kruger National Park and whose pronking springbok are stamped on all gold Krugerrands. Of the bust he created of Mr. Hubbard, the artist said, “This was my best work. I really did love him so.”
In the mid’ 60s, Mr. Hubbard journeyed to what was then Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). Having just declared its independence from Great Britain, Rhodesia was an unrecognised state, its white minority government disenfranchising blacks. Mr. Hubbard again made the case for inclusion of all citizens, writing a “Rhodesian Plan,” which included a constitution incorporating universal suffrage and a Bill of Rights that included freedom of speech, freedom of religion and a penal code, which he relayed to government ministers. For his efforts, Mr. Hubbard was refused a visa renewal and had to leave Rhodesia before being able to set up a Scientology base in Southern Africa.
Now, half a century later, the vision he had for creating a headquarters for Scientology in Africa, a place that could serve as a hub to further humanitarian campaigns and spread the message of equality and respect for all, has been realised with the opening of the Advanced Organisation of Africa at Castle Kyalami.