RIP, Desmond Tutu | Jesus’ Creed


Archbishop Desmond Tutu has died at the age of 90. He is known for his work to break the chains of the apartheid system in South Africa and then for pursuing reconciliation. A word that runs through his life is a peacemaker. From NYTimes:

Desmond M. Tutu, the cleric who used his pulpit and fiery oratory to help bring down apartheid in South Africa and then became the leading advocate for peaceful reconciliation under the black majority regime, died on Sunday in Cape Town.

As head of the South African Council of Churches and later as Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Archbishop Tutu led the church to the forefront of the decades-long struggle of black South Africans for freedom. . His voice was a powerful force for non-violence in the anti-apartheid movement, which won him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

When this movement triumphed in the early 1990s, it pushed the country towards a new relationship between its white and black citizens, and, as chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he gathered testimonies documenting the wickedness of the ‘apartheid.

“You are overwhelmed by the extent of the evil,” he said. But, he added, the wound had to be opened to clean it. In return for an honest account of past crimes, the committee offered amnesty, establishing what Archbishop Tutu called the principle of restorative rather than punitive justice.

Here is another of his memorable sayings:

Politics was inherent in his religious teachings. “We had the country and they had the Bible,” he said in one of his parables. “Then they said, ‘Let’s pray,’ and we closed our eyes. When we reopened them, they had the land and we had the Bible. Maybe we got the best end of the deal.

Tutu once explained the concept of ubuntu, which is that “a person is a person through other people”. It was one of the main themes of Tutu’s life, work and ministry.

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of human being. Ubuntu in particular talks about the fact that you cannot exist as an isolated human being. It speaks of our interdependence… All too often we see ourselves as mere individuals, separate from each other, as you are connected and what you are doing affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads; it is for all of humanity. (The source)

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