• The Most Rev Desmond Tutu obituary

    From Steve Hayes@21:1/5 to All on Fri Dec 31 05:14:39 2021
    XPost: za.misc, alt.obituaries, alt.religion.christianity
    XPost: alt.christian.religion, soc.history

    The Most Rev Desmond Tutu obituary

    Anglican archbishop who fought against apartheid in South Africa and
    led the subsequent Truth and Reconciliation Commission

    Sun 26 Dec 2021 13.32 GMT

    Last modified on Sun 26 Dec 2021 21.10 GMT

    In 1948, when the apartheid regime was voted into office in South
    Africa, Desmond Tutu was 17. It was not until the late 1960s, as the
    future Anglican archbishop of Cape Town approached 40, that the
    concept of black liberation caused him to widen his horizons, and it
    was only in the mid-70s that he aligned himself with the liberation

    Tutu, who has died aged 90, developed late in this respect because at
    first he was wholly a man of the church. He never wanted to enter
    politics: “No, I’m not smart enough. I can’t think quickly on my feet.
    I also think it’s a very harsh environment. I’m a crybaby … not tough enough for the hurly-burly of politics,” he claimed, perhaps

    Church and state were locked in combat, however, and choices had to be
    made. Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists and others condemned apartheid,
    while the Dutch Reformed churches in South Africa defended it. When
    Tutu became the first black Anglican dean of Johannesburg in 1975 he
    was, according to his biographer, Shirley du Boulay, “less politically
    aware than one might have expected. His contribution to the liberation
    of his people [until then] had been in becoming a good priest.”

    Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, a predominantly Afrikaner farming town
    100 miles south-west of Johannesburg. His father, Zachariah, a Xhosa,
    was headteacher of the local Methodist primary school. His mother,
    Aletta, a Mosotho, was a domestic servant. The children were all given
    both European and African names and spoke Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana.
    Later, Tutu also learned Afrikaans and English. At the age of 14 he
    contracted tuberculosis and over the course of 20 months in hospital
    he developed a lifelong friendship with Father Trevor Huddleston, the
    Anglican missionary priest from Britain who, as one of the most
    prominent opponents of apartheid inside and outside South Africa,
    became his religious inspiration and mentor.
    The Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie shares a joke with Bishop
    Desmond Tutu at Lambeth Palace in 1981.
    The Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie shares a joke with Bishop
    Desmond Tutu at Lambeth Palace in 1981. Photograph: Popperfoto

    Tutu obtained a teaching diploma in 1953 and a BA degree by
    correspondence a year later. He taught at high schools in Johannesburg
    (1954) and Krugersdorp (1955-57), before leaving to train at St
    Peter’s theological college, Rosettenville. Ordained a priest in 1961,
    he served in an African township.

    His entry into the liberation struggle followed the years he spent
    abroad. From 1962 until 1966 he was in London, where he secured a
    master’s in theology at King’s College. He served as a curate in
    Golders Green and at Bletchingley, Surrey, where initially standoffish
    Tories took him to their hearts.

    After teaching at the Federal Theological Seminary in the town of
    Alice in the Eastern Cape province, Tutu went back to Britain from
    1972 until 1975 as associate director of the Theological Education
    Fund of the World Council of Churches. From 1976 to 1978 he served as
    bishop of Lesotho, returning to Johannesburg to take up the
    high-profile post of general secretary of the South African Council of
    Churches (SACC), from which the pro-apartheid Afrikaans churches had
    cut themselves loose.

    That appointment effectively marked the end of Tutu’s political
    innocence. He had seen the uglier side of Africa, and although his
    travels separated him from the struggle in his own country, they also
    moulded him, giving him a wider outlook, more self-confidence and a
    growing revulsion against race discrimination. In spite of passport restrictions, in the early 80s Tutu was probably the most travelled
    churchman in the world after Pope John Paul II. Britain was always a
    sanctuary for him. The turning point on that score, said Tutu, came
    when everyone at King’s College London treated him like anyone else.
    “So my gratitude to England and my gratitude to King’s is that I have discovered who I am.”

    In more than one sense Tutu became Nelson Mandela’s precursor. Both
    men foresaw the inevitability of liberation. Both were sufficiently
    above racial issues to know that, ultimately, what mattered (at least
    for the transition from apartheid to non-racial rule) would be
    reconciliation among South Africa’s races. Once the apartheid
    government accepted the inexorability of change, as it began to do in
    the 80s, the role of the prophet changed. “Demands for justice are
    replaced by demands for reconciliation.”

    However outraged they might have been by their experiences under
    apartheid, both Tutu and Mandela put their personal feelings aside. In
    African terms, both were relatively privileged, Mandela (of Xhosa
    royalty) even more than the highly educated Tutu. There were
    differences, of course. Tutu was excitable, passionate, easily hurt;
    Mandela composed and imperious. In the difficult dying days of
    apartheid the media, especially the state-controlled broadcasting
    corporation (SABC), demonised Tutu as the man most white South
    Africans loved to hate.

    But Tutu blazed the trail. When Mandela said the same things 10 years
    later, his words sounded fitting; when Tutu uttered them he outraged
    even his Anglican brethren. In 1980, he forecast that South Africa
    would have a black leader within five to 10 years (it took 14). The
    reason why many white people were so venomous was not only that Tutu
    told them that tomorrow would not be theirs, but that he did it with
    such certainty.

    The entertaining, excitable, impish little man was an old-style
    prophet, but also one with a dry sense of humour. White people, he
    observed, saw him as a politician trying hard to be a bishop, with
    “horns under my funny bishop’s hat and my tail tucked away under my trailing cape”. His wry assessment of the impact of their arrival in
    South Africa was: “We had the land and they had the Bible. Then they
    said, ‘Let us pray,’ and we closed our eyes. When we opened them
    again, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

    At times, Tutu was the despair of his friends. Once he said that if
    the Russians came to South Africa, they would be welcomed as
    liberators. An associate sighed, “He had this habit of going over the
    top.” Tutu’s support of international sanctions against South Africa
    caused a huge eruption among white people and also in his own church.
    Some liberal white South Africans classified Tutu’s Nobel peace prize
    in 1984 as foreign interference.

    Tutu could never execute the politician’s soft-shoe shuffle. He spoke
    his mind, was always his own man, never trendy or fully in the
    political mainstream. Initially, he had been drawn to the Black
    Consciousness Movement and to American ideas of “black theology”, but
    he shifted closer to the United Democratic Front (UDF), the exiled
    ANC’s internal surrogate.

    Sparing the sensitivities of white Anglicans was scarcely Tutu’s
    concern. By the time he arrived at the SACC in March 1978, the
    organisation was becoming a microcosm of a future, non-racial South
    Africa. Tutu aired his own opinions, sometimes provocatively, on world
    affairs. He blasted the Soviet puppet regime in Afghanistan and, simultaneously, the US for supporting the Contras in Nicaragua and
    Israel for bombing Beirut.

    One of his more spectacular outbursts was his condemnation as
    “nauseating” and “the pits” of a speech by Ronald Reagan in 1988, in which the US president defended the continued involvement of American
    companies in the South African economy. For his part, said Tutu,
    “America and the west can go to hell.” Later, in his engaging way, he half-apologised, saying that perhaps he should have used “less salty language”. Patrick Buchanan, Reagan’s chief media adviser, snapped
    back, “Whatever his moral splendour, the bishop is a political

    By then, Tutu was accustomed to storms breaking over his head. In
    1979, on a visit to Denmark, he criticised that country’s purchase of
    South African coal, thereby signalling his support for sanctions. On
    his return to South Africa, he was summoned to a meeting with two
    cabinet ministers, who asked him to retract or face possible action,
    not only against himself, but against the SACC as well.

    However, the organisation rallied, telling the government of PW Botha
    that a retraction could constitute a denial of Tutu’s prophetic
    calling. It added, though, that it was willing to meet the government
    to discuss fundamental reform. It was a turning point in the mighty
    church v state conflict that had rocked the country since the 50s. The
    Anglican church was flexing its muscles. Tutu advised the government
    to stop playing God. During the Christian church’s 2,000-year
    existence, he said, tyrants had acted against it, arresting its
    followers, killing them, proscribing their faith. “If they take the
    SACC and the churches on, let them know they are taking on the Church
    of Jesus Christ.”

    In 1980, Tutu and fellow clergymen went to Pretoria to meet Botha, six
    cabinet ministers and two deputy ministers. It was not an easy
    decision. Critics, clergy among them, warned Tutu’s delegation they
    were wasting their time, even betraying the struggle. It was Tutu’s
    intuitive genius to know when meeting an enemy showed strength rather
    than weakness. In 1982, the then archbishop of Canterbury, Robert
    Runcie, sent a five-member delegation to South Africa to demonstrate
    world support for the SACC – “to make the point [to the apartheid government] that you are not simply dealing with a domestic matter. If
    you touch Desmond Tutu, you touch a world family of Christians.”

    Tutu did not meet Botha again until 1986 when, accompanied by the
    liberal Afrikaner churchman Beyers Naudé, he was received at the state president’s official residence in Cape Town. Tutu met Botha on two
    further occasions in 1986, around the time the white regime was
    starting to meet Mandela secretly in prison. The days of apartheid
    were numbered, even though few realised it.

    Tutu thus began his ascent in the Anglican church just as it
    farsightedly started to adjust to a changing South Africa. Soon after
    receiving the Nobel peace prize, he left the SACC to become the first
    black bishop of Johannesburg (1985-86). The electoral assembly of the
    diocese consisted of 214 delegates – all the clergy plus one layman
    from each congregation. The conservative, mostly white, priests
    blocked Tutu, while the black priests blocked the election of a white
    bishop. Unable to deliver the required two-thirds majority, the
    assembly passed the decision to the synod of bishops, who chose the
    black candidate.

    In April 1986, Tutu was elected to the highest Anglican post in South
    Africa as archbishop of Cape Town, and that September was enthroned in
    St George’s Cathedral. This was followed by his unanimous election as
    head of the All-Africa Conference of Churches at its gathering in

    By then Tutu was in the thick of politics. Arrested for taking part in
    an illegal march, he was fined, imprisoned for a night and had his
    passport withdrawn. When it was returned, the irrepressible prelate
    promptly visited the pope, whereupon his passport was temporarily
    withdrawn again.

    Defying the Botha government, Tutu met the ANC-in-exile at its Zambian headquarters, where – ever his own man – he informed it that, while he supported its aim of a non-racial, democratic South Africa, he could
    not associate himself with the armed struggle. The ANC at first
    refused to end it but later agreed to suspend it.

    Tutu had first met Mandela in the 50s, when the latter was an
    adjudicator in an inter-school debate in which Tutu was a participant.
    He did not see Mandela again until the latter’s release from prison in
    1990, although they corresponded while Mandela was a prisoner on
    Robben Island. When Tutu received the Nobel prize, the ANC organised a celebration for him, and on Mandela’s release from prison, he stayed
    at Tutu’s official archbishop’s residence in Cape Town.

    “With calls coming from all over the world, and even the White House,”
    Tutu said, “it was quite impossible to spend time with him. Even then
    he was ever gracious with his old-world courtesy ... His regal dignity
    is quite humble.” There is just a hint here of the tension that later affected the relationship.

    Tutu recalled that, at a state banquet for the president of Uganda,
    the former president FW de Klerk had not been placed at the top table.
    Mandela “was genuinely concerned that De Klerk had been treated so offhandedly”. However, said Tutu, Mandela could also be “horribly stubborn”. For his part, Mandela remarked, light-heartedly, on the
    trouble Tutu had caused him.

    Tutu married Leah Nomalizo Shinxani in 1955. They had four children. A journalist noted many years later: “It’s fair to say that only an
    astute, humorous and strong woman could have survived life with Tutu,”
    while a close friend said, “I think she has a helluva hard time.
    Desmond gives himself so much to everybody that I’m not sure whether
    there is a lot left for Leah.”

    As the ANC leaders returned from exile and prison, Tutu modestly
    withdrew to the wings, returning to his spiritual calling. But Mandela
    invited him to take the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation
    Commission (TRC), with a mandate not to conduct Nuremberg-style
    trials, but to effect reconciliation by uncovering “gross violations
    of human rights” committed during the apartheid years – by all sides, including the ANC. It was an offer Tutu could not refuse.

    Appointed in December 1995, the TRC delivered its final five-volume
    report to Mandela in November 1998. By then Tutu had been receiving
    treatment in the US for prostate cancer. His illness had a profound
    effect, making him consciously savour his remaining years and turn
    away from public life, towards his God and his wife.

    The TRC – the climax of Tutu’s career – was both praised and
    disparaged. Historians will long debate what it achieved. It could
    have investigated an estimated 100,000 violations of human rights,
    protracting the hearings endlessly, but it focused on the worst cases,
    finding time to listen to mea culpas and semi-apologies from the
    business community, the media, churches and others.

    For Tutu, the 1997 hearing at which De Klerk refused to accept
    political responsibility for the assassinations, kidnappings, torture
    and assorted crimes committed by agents of the apartheid state was
    traumatic. De Klerk made the extraordinary submission that apartheid
    was “a well-intentioned failure” – and that he and his predecessor, Botha, had presided over two final phases of “reform and
    transformation”. It was quite incorrect, De Klerk told the commission,
    “to refer to our administrations as the apartheid government. We were primarily concerned with the dismantling of apartheid.”

    Tutu confessed that there were times when his Christian charity was
    strained to the limit. He described the white regime’s chemical and biological warfare programme under Botha as the “most diabolical
    aspect of apartheid”. Tutu, however, warmly commended De Klerk’s
    speech in February 1990 unbanning liberation movements, and when he
    was consulted by the Norwegian Nobel committee for advice on whether
    to award a joint peace prize to Mandela and De Klerk in 1993, he
    endorsed it.

    But, he said later, “had I known then what I know now, I would have
    opposed it vehemently”. As for Botha, then in retirement and preparing
    to remarry, the TRC was a “circus” and he would not “perform” before it. Fined for contempt of court, he remained defiant to the end. The
    ANC’s response to the TRC report was almost as dismaying for Tutu. The
    report recorded that the ANC, in exile beyond South Africa’s borders
    for 30 years, had committed gross violations in its detention camps,
    torturing and executing suspected informers, rebellious members and
    others, and that, even after its unbanning in 1990, it had committed
    further crimes, including murder, mainly against black political
    opponents. Friends said he was saddened and perplexed by the ferocity
    of the criticism of the TRC by the ANC, the white rightwing and some
    mainstream liberals.

    Tutu saw the party’s attack on the TRC as a betrayal of the ANC’s
    finest moral traditions. But he was comforted by the knowledge that
    many ANC members and supporters, including Mandela (no longer
    president of the ANC though still president of the country when the
    TRC report was published), were similarly disturbed by their
    organisation’s official response.

    This dissent within the ANC prevented a lasting rupture between Tutu,
    the country’s “most prominent moral lodestar”, and the ANC. The ANC applied for an injunction to prevent publication of the TRC’s report
    (Mandela dissented), but the court rejected it. It was an inexplicable
    blunder by the ANC leadership, and an appalled Tutu exclaimed, “I have struggled against a tyranny. I did not do this in order to substitute another.”

    Having stepped down as archbishop in 1996 Tutu left for the US in
    October 1998 to take up a two-year theology professorship at Emory
    University in Atlanta. Overwhelmed by invitations to address other
    gatherings and institutions across the US, he turned most of them
    down, so that he could carry his workload at Emory, pace himself
    through his illness and spend more time with Leah. In Atlanta, he
    completed his major work, No Future Without Forgiveness, published in
    1999, while remaining in close touch with those parts of the TRC that
    were still at work.

    For all its shortcomings, Tutu’s TRC was an extraordinary episode in
    South Africa’s history. Even if it used controversial methods and
    failed to deliver universal reconciliation (many white people felt
    they were simply in the dock), at least it uncovered much of the
    truth. The “gross violations” were a festering sore that had to be cleansed. Some dozen other countries have conducted their own truth commissions, but South Africa’s was the most remarkable and, for this achievement, the archbishop can take his bow before history.

    Tutu was credited with coining the term “rainbow nation” for the
    non-racial South Africa that he, Mandela and their various supporters
    wanted to rise from the ashes of apartheid. On his retirement as
    archbishop, Mandela said of Tutu at a service of thanksgiving: “His
    joy in our diversity and his spirit of forgiveness are as much part of
    his immeasurable contribution to our nation as his passion for justice
    and his solidarity with the poor.”

    In his final years, remarkably active in the light of his cancer, Tutu campaigned in many parts of the world for human rights and freedoms,
    and was often seen in his beloved London. He announced that he would
    retire from public life on his 79th birthday, in October 2010. But the
    flow of comments on a wide range of social and political issues
    continued unabated.

    In 2013 he announced he could no longer vote for the ruling ANC
    because of its corruption, inequality and use of violence, and its
    failure to tackle violent xenophobia and poverty in the townships. At
    the time of his 85th birthday, in 2016, he called for the right to
    assisted dying, and in 2020 he joined other faith leaders in calling
    for an end to the criminalisation of LGBTQ+ people.

    He continued in his advanced years to receive honours and awards from
    many countries, and in 2015 he was made a Companion of Honour by

    He is survived by Leah, their children, Trevor, Theresa, Naomi and
    Mpho, and his sister Gloria.

    Desmond Mpilo Tutu, priest, born 7 October 1931; died 26 December 2021

    Source: <htps://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/26/the-most-rev-desmond-tutu-obituary>

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Sanford Manley@21:1/5 to Steve Hayes on Fri Dec 31 00:52:16 2021
    XPost: za.misc, alt.obituaries, alt.religion.christianity
    XPost: alt.christian.religion, soc.history

    On 12/30/2021 10:14 PM, Steve Hayes wrote:
    The Most Rev Desmond Tutu obituary

    Anglican archbishop who fought against apartheid in South Africa and
    led the subsequent Truth and Reconciliation Commission

    One of the best obituaries I have ever read.

    Sanford M. Manley

    "Trying to be right all the time
    is a very subtle way of being wrong."

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)