ARCH BISHOP DESMOND MPILO TUTU
Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal. His father was a teacher, and he himself was educated at Johannesburg Bantu High School. After leaving school he trained first as a teacher at Pretoria Bantu Normal College and in 1954 he graduated from the University of South Africa. After three years as a high school teacher he began to study theology, being ordained as a priest in 1960. The years 1962-66 were devoted to further theological study in England leading up to a Master of Theology. From 1967 to 1972 he taught theology in South Africa before returning to England for three years as the assistant director of a theological institute in London. In 1975 he was appointed Dean of St. Marys Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black to hold that position. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho, and in 1978 became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. Tutu is an honorary doctor of a number of leading universities in the USA, Britain and Germany.
Desmond Tutu formulated his objective for a democratic and just society without racial divisions and set forward the following points in 1984 as minimum demands:
1. equal civil rights for all
2. the abolition of South Africas passport laws
3. a common system of education
4. the cessation of forced deportation from South Africa to the so-called - homelands.
The South African Council of Churches is a contact organization for the churches of South Africa and functions as a national committee for the World Council of Churches. The Boer churches have disassociated themselves from the organization as a result of the unambiguous stand it has made against apartheid. Around 80 percent of its members are black, and they now dominate the leading positions. Bishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Following is excert of an Address made by Archibishop Desmond Tutu to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission held in Pretoria - 26 FEBRUARY 1998
Thank you for the great honour of addressing this prestigious and influential body. One day I walked down Adderley Street in a Springbok rugby jersey as part of the campaign to save the springbok emblem much loved in white circles, a campaign spearheaded by our President. At that time I was, if you can conceive it, the so called blue eyed boy, especially in Afrikaner circles. Now, because of my remarks to the Parliamentary Press Gallery we are nearly back to the bad old days when I tended to be the person most whites most loved to hate.
In a way it was as if people discerned an inconsistency in my attitudes and utterances. Nothing could be further from the truth for, dear friends, since I entered public life as Dean of Johannesburg in 1975, I have given expression to a deep and passionate concern for all South Africans and have always been fervently committed to reconciliation. This began with the letter I wrote to Mr Vorster to warn him of an impending conflagration if nothing dramatic was done - he dismissed my letter contemptuously, that was in May 1976, then June 16th 1976 erupted; through to accepting Professor Jonkers confession at the Rustenburg Conference; to the funeral of the victims of the Boipatong Massacre and that of Chris Hani; an Afrikaans journalist thought I was crazy when I addressed the very angry thousands at the FNB Stadium and asked them to say - We shall be free, all of us black and white together. They did not say Go to hell, no, they shouted, We shall be free, all of us, black and white together - through to being involved in the negotiations for the Peace Accord.
I led an SACC delegation to see Mr P W Botha at the Union buildings despite heavy criticism, despite the fact that the Apartheid Government was subverting the SACC through the machinations of their front organisation the Christian League. I have for long been dedicated to working for reconciliation in our land. What I was striving to say last week was not to issue a threat, it was not an accusation. No, it was a cry from the heart, a cri de coeur, an impassioned plea to a people I love deeply as a pastor and as a fellow South African. It was an appeal for my white fellow South Africans to turn away from a road that would lead to perdition, to a cul de sac. It was so very much like the plea that God addresses through the prophet Jeremiah to His chosen people. Just listen to these plaintive, heart rending words.
Jeremiah 2: 11 - 13
Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water...
....My Error in the Parliamentary Press Gallery address I made a mistake which I happily and readily admit and which I must correct from the onset. I did not, as I should have done, pay a very warm tribute to the many white people who opposed apartheid in the horrendous days of the past and who did so at very great cost to themselves, and it included some remarkable men and women amongst whom were Afrikaners who today are held in high esteem in this new South Africa. I too would want again to salute them. And I did not acknowledge in that address the fact that certain white people including Afrikaners had in fact confessed; the NGK, its Western Cape Synod, the Stellenbosch NG Presbytery, many leading Afrikaans businesses and of course the Sakekamer itself - all this in submissions to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They have all done a splendid and crucial thing and I salute them too.
But we must admit that there does appear to be a significant segment which is quite vociferous, egged on by two major newspapers, Rapport and Die Burger.They have sought from day one to vilify and to discredit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission so that they would pre-emptively have discredited its report. They have made no bones at all about their nostalgia for a past which we ought all corporately and individually to lament. They want to recall a past when they, the Afrikaners, were in charge, even though they now claim never to have supported apartheid. They have been unashamed, quite brazen in their support of a defiant Mr P W Botha and they actually said after his first court appearance that it was a pity he was not so young any longer, for this was the leader their beleaguered community needed so desperately and they pointed with pride to some of his quite outrageous comments; that he had nothing to apologise for and that apartheid was really only good neighbourliness. That is really sad and I was appealing to the many,according to a Rapport survey the overwhelming majority of its readers, who rejected the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I said one understands the welter of emotions a once dominant group could be experiencing in this period of transition. When familiar landmarks and old parameters by which we had got our bearings were moved, we become disorientated and find we reject what is different, unlike us, what thinks differently, behaves differently, looks differently and that is why fundamentalisms of all sorts flourish in a time of flux and transition. We abhor diversity and ethnic cleansing becomes possible; we look for simplistic answers to what are complex problems. We stress the things that establish our identity - our culture, our language, our religion, etc. And we see threats to these everywhere. And nothing helps to define our identity so much as an external enemy which helps to unite those who would otherwise be divided.
Apartheid did help to unite those who opposed it. When apartheid disappeared there was much consternation; we in the Anglican Church suffered from an identity crisis. And so those whom Rapport and Die Burger serve found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) a Godsend. They decided, long before we had done anything, to accuse the TRC of being a witch hunt against the Afrikaner and nothing we have done and said to the contrary has changed their view. What would they have said had it been an Afrikaner who was subjected to a nine day hearing as happened with Mrs Winnie Madikizela Mandela?
I said even if they were to succeed in discrediting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the fact of the matter is that this is a moral universe, right and wrong matter. God cannot be mocked. I used to say in the dark days of the struggle, there is no way that an evil system such as apartheid, so utterly unchristian and immoral, could prevail forever. I used to say those who support apartheid have already lost and I used to say to white people, Come and join the winning side, and so even if the TRC were to fail, that would not make the apartheid past disappear. It would remain to haunt those who had refused the offer God has put before us all. The atrocities of that past would one day emerge for truth will out, as we have seen in the case of Switzerland 50 years later. And the guilt associated with the oppression and injustice of apartheid would cling to the souls of those who had benefitted from it whether they liked it or not. And if not dealt with effectively would corrode their very vitals, their humanity, and would be passed on to future generations. I travelled by road from Zurich to Davos with a young Afrikaner and he told me that whenever his grandmother told him of what had happened in the British concentration camps he was ready to fight the Anglo Boer War over again - nearly 100 years later because that experience,that past, had not been dealt with effectively.
I was making the appeal; here is an instrument, an agency, to help us come to terms with our past. Let us acknowledge that horrible things happened for the sake of our souls, for the sake of our children, for the sake of the future. It is an agency where we will not be prosecuted, where no one will gloat when you say, I am sorry. The wronged will demonstrate their magnanimity again and say, We forgive you, and we will then have begun the process of healing, the process of reconciliation.
I believe you must say to others whom you are able to influence - let us embrace this new dispensation enthusiastically. Do not let us forever be moaning about this,that and the other. Do count your blessings. We could have been a Rwanda, a Bosnia; that has not happened. Yes, many things are not as they should be, but they could have been worse. I admire Beeld newspaper immensely. They are quick to praise the good things the new Government does and so when they criticise it, the Government really takes notice. Those who are forever whining are dismissed and totally discredited. The Afrikaner once inhabited a ghetto of privilege. They have been set free from that. Let them not construct a new ghetto of the disgruntled, of malcontents, of the hypercritical.
You have shown considerable ability to have produced so much economic power and prosperity when you were so badly disadvantaged by British colonialism. You should know how we have felt. Help us through the skills you developed to advance as you have. You should be the last to complain of affirmative action.You know just how the Afrikaner was advanced since 1948. The public service became Afrikanerised in next to no time.
For your own sakes, there has to be stability otherwise the economy will suffer. Business confidence will take a knock. And the surest recipe for unrest and turmoil is if the vast majority have no proper homes, clean water, electricity, good education, adequate health care. Their quality of life has to be vastly improved, otherwise we have had it. Invest in transformation - it is not just being altruistic, it is ultimately good business.
Contribute to reparation for reconciliation; through community development, scholarships. If the disadvantaged, the poor, the homeless and unemployed become desperate, they may use desperate means to redress the imbalance. Be willing to share lest you end up with nothing to share.
You are a splendid people and South Africa needs you. You are gifted. You have a vibrant language and culture and identity which you tried to safeguard with some of the most vicious laws imaginable. But ultimately your worth as a person does not depend on any of these extrinsic things. God loves you and God will not allow you to go under. Your worth is infinite and intrinsic. You matter because God loves you and because you are created in the image of God and nobody and nothing can take that away from you, it is inalienable. Believe this about yourself, that you are each a V.S.P. - a Very Special Person and if you are this then of course everyone else is this - someone of infinite worth.
by South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission