The story of the liberation of South Africa and southern Africa cannot be written without mentioning Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A brilliant, considerate, humorous, and principled leader, the Anglican cleric rose to become the first black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Bishop of Johannesburg, and Archbishop of Cape Town, regardless of the segregationist pro-white environment.
Von From these pulpits, townships, and streets, he boldly preached the incompatibility of apartheid with Christian values. He supported the struggle at a time when some church leaders were giving up or still asking questions about whether it was right to support the (armed) struggle. He was arrested and released many times and showed extraordinary courage and resilience by speaking out against the regime, but also defying the brutal police, not only in street demonstrations, but sometimes in the “House of God” during worship.
In 1984 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid. One of the first major tasks that he took over after his retirement from his ecclesiastical office in 1997 was the chairmanship of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which committed the most horrific crimes during the apartheid era, mainly by apartheid perpetrators, but also by their opponents, including the ANC.
Immediately after the liberation in 1994, he assumed the role of watchdog for the voiceless and downtrodden masses who clashed with any president. Together with Nelson Mandela, he asked about the high salaries that the new black elite inherited from apartheid and proposed a basic income for the poor.
No love was lost between the archbishop and Mandela’s two successors, the presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. He called on Mbeki for his black empowerment policy, which benefited a tiny minority, and for ignoring basic research and tried and tested approaches in dealing with the HIV / AIDS pandemic, which has led to the disease and death of thousands of South Africans / p>
Given the criminal cases in which Jacob Zuma has faced from corruption (for which he was deposed as Vice President) to rape, Archbishop Tutu argued that he should not seek the presidency. After Zuma became president, they coexisted, despite the fact that Archbishop Zuma criticized Zuma many times, not least when he bowed to Chinese pressure to deny the Dalai Lama, another spiritual leader and Nobel Prize winner, a visa. During the Zuma presidency, he said he would not vote for the ANC if the status quo persists. During this time he said that South Africa had lost its way!
Archbishop Tutu died in a time of great fear in South Africa after the public’s trust in his government and especially in its liberation movement, the ANC, such as shows his poor performance in the recent elections.
Tutu did not limit his assessments to South Africa. He appealed to Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe over dictatorial tendencies and flawed economic policies. He called on Kenya for having set up what he believed to be an inferior truth and reconciliation commission.
He condemned Israel for practicing a form of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Prof Ngila Mwase has worked with the African Union and regional economic communities