top of page

Archbishop Denis Hurley and Bheki Dube - Life Size

Archbishop Denis Hurley (1915 - 2004) and Bhekeni Henry Dube - Life Size


Of all the parishes in the Durban Archdiocese, the furthest from Durban is Bergville, far away in the beautiful foothills of the Drakensberg. And the most remote of Bergville’s 21 outstations is known as “Thintwa” (meaning “touch”). One day, when Archbishop Hurley visited this poor outstation and its tiny church, he noticed a little boy tugging at his cassock. He tried to talk to the child, but the boy just looked up at him and smiled. He said nothing, just kept on smiling. Eventually the archbishop realised that the boy – Bhekeni Henry Dube – was profoundly deaf and mute. The people of Thintwa told him there were a number of other children there with the same problem. They all had great difficulty in communicating and were denied any chance of formal education and training. Apparently their disability had resulted from an outbreak of measles.


Touched by the plight of Bheki and other children like him, the archbishop tried to find a place where they could get treatment and schooling. That’s how he discovered there were only one or two schools in the whole province for deaf Zulu children. It made him determined to establish such a school and it was opened in 1981. The archbishop, who never forgot how he had been touched, literally and figuratively, by Bheki Dube, decided to name the school “KwaThintwa” – “the place of being touched”, remembering too that “Thintwa” was also the place where he had met Bheki.


This incident is commemorated in these statues of Archbishop Hurley and of Bheki Dube. We see Bheki stepping forward with a confidence gained from his contact with the archbishop whom he is still touching with his left hand, while he signs “peace” with his right hand. Commissioned by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize, these statues honour the two “founders” of KwaThintwa School for the Deaf – Bheki Dube who bravely approached the archbishop, appealing only with eyes, smile and hand, little knowing what great things would come from his action – and the archbishop himself , whose compassionate heart led him to put much energy, skill and influence into establishing KwaThintwa.

(written by Paddy Kearney)


The final bronze statue was unveiled at the Kwa Thintwa school KZN - 27th February 2014.

Client: Vusi Mchunu - House of Memories

bottom of page