Jan 25, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Tutu spoke from his heart about failings of state and his people

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is dead. The meaning of this headline, which aired worldwide after his death on December 26th, is simple enough. But its importance shattered the moral foundations of mankind. This is not an exaggeration. Tutu personified our collective conscience. In his homage, former President Barack Obama described it as a “moral compass”. Tutu’s life was a roller coaster ride full of courage, honesty, intoxicating joy, love, deep sorrow and agony.

Courage to face the apartheid police state and criticize despots around the world, and political and social issues to support before this was fashionable. He was refreshingly honest about his personal life and its shortcomings, as well as the shortcomings of the ANC government and its people. As chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he openly sobbed in fear and despair during the hearings. He expressed his love for his wife regardless of cultural norms. He laughed heartily and enjoyed his happiness to the full. He had no facade, no self-righteous demeanor, no sense of political or cultural expediency. He spoke from his heart, regardless of what was politically or socially fashionable. He resembled the Dalai Lama in his philosophical outlook, religious tolerance, humanism and personal style. No wonder the two became good friends.

When you saw them together, you were struck by the thought that if someone truly believes in the central tenets of their faith – be it Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or others – his humanity shines through them and touches, changes and gives us all hope regardless of our beliefs.

There is a difference that I would like to highlight between the activism of Tutu and that of the so-called radical left. Tutu criticized injustice and wrongdoing wherever it happened and whoever committed it.

He was a harsh critic of the apartheid regime, but when the ANC came to power, he turned his anger on principle against Corruption and mismanagement. He criticized Thabo Mbeki for his HIV / AIDS policy, which was based on “AIDS denial”, which resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. He criticized despots like Mugabe, Abacha and other tyrants in Africa.

This criticism angered African left nationalists, who at the time represented Mugabe as the embodiment of the African revolution.

Tutu was an outspoken one Critics of Israelis’ treatment of the Palestinians.

Unlike leftist or nationalist activists, Tutu did not first ask where injustice happens or who is perpetrating it before criticizing it. It was guided by conscience, not ideological dogmas or Pan-African nationalism.

Selective activism against injustice not only leaves great injustices in the world, but encourages it. How can one criticize the murder of George Floyd in America and remain silent about the murder of 40 Ugandans in one day by the police.

Tutu would have called for racial justice in America and at the same time demanded justice in Uganda. That is the hallmark of conscientious activism.

Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator