Bishop Desmond Tutu died at the age of 90. It was a privilege to know the Ark, as it was called, among most of us. He was famous for his tales of self-deprecation. Like when he died and went to heaven, where he expected to be, but St. Peter said, “Oh no no. You have to go to the other place, the hottest place.
Two weeks later there was a great commotion at the Gates of Heaven. What’s the problem? “You sent Archbishop Tutu to us and he caused us so many problems. I ask for political asylum, please!
We were a few Nigerians in the house. It was then that he told us the story. It was his first trip to Nigeria and the planes were flown by Nigerian pilots! Would they do it? Until they land the planes like feathers! The prejudices of whites against blacks had clung to him without consciously getting rid of such prejudices.
There was a time when Jacob Zuma sought the highest office in the land. There were people who will live to regret it but at the time the only person who had the courage to appeal to JGZuma to withdraw from the contest was the Ark. It was an opportunity to speak the truth to power. “You have been accused of raping the daughter of your colleague, comrade and friend. Yes, you have been acquitted. You still shouldn’t challenge the post. You have seven hundred and a few charges of bribery, corruption, money laundering, and other charges.
But it was not only an opportunity to speak the truth to power, but also an opportunity to speak the truth to power. And this truth is that power is transitory, empty, nothing, here today, gone tomorrow. “So Malema says he will die for you today?” Look what his mouth says tomorrow. Socialists call you their man today, please wait until tomorrow and listen to them tell you that you were never their man. When you lost power, where would you go? “
Zuma did not listen to Tutu. He won the country’s presidency because the ANC appointed him party chairman. It was the end of the party. And who would predict the end of the ANC?
In shirt sleeves and open hands, he confessed that he would never be able to vote for the ANC again. He must have encouraged thousands of people to categorically reject the ANC. Whatever situation the ANC finds itself in today must be the responsibility of Zuma and his nine years of rule. Sadly, we will never learn of his contribution to the capture of the state. It’s an ongoing story. Perhaps in the future, Zuma will offer a full confession for a full amnesty. Who knows? Or his accomplices, the Guptas could offer a confession. Otherwise, we’ll never know the whole story.
The story of Desmond Tutu is the story of all the young boys in South Africa. They want to study to become a doctor or a lawyer. Unfortunately their parents could not afford it. They did not have the funds available to pay for such an education. In Desmond’s case, his father was a teacher and the mother a domestic worker. The family moved once the mother could work in a school, perhaps a safer place to work.
What family limitations have hinted that government policy has ended. Bantu education said that no black child would be educated beyond their means. And the government was the sole determinant of these means. Desmond entered a missionary school which gave him a religious education leading to work in the church. It was a brilliant opening for a young man with leadership potential. And he rose within the framework of the leadership. The great achievement was when Tutu became the general secretary of the World Council of Churches. The rest, as they say, is history.
What was the philosophy of L’Arche? Very simple: non-violence. It was a difficult philosophy to live with given the practice of the enemy and the response of the ally, the ANC.
On one occasion, a crowd of young people from the township were determined to burn alive a man accused of being an impimpi, a spy. Tutu insisted that his life be spared. He removed the full gasoline tire that had been thrown around the man’s neck.
Desmond Tutu’s personal risk can only be imagined.
He insisted on insisting that he was not a politician. He campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela so that negotiations could begin towards the end of this notorious apartheid system.
The South African government is the only government to have put in place a bold enough government on racism under the apartheid philosophy, graciously translated as “separate development.” In a historic legal decision, “separate” cannot be equal. Hendrix Verwoerd, first Minister of Education and then Prime Minister, was the architect of the apartheid philosophy.
How did he die, for few of them like this man who created agony for other human beings do not die well. “In April 1960, a deranged white farmer shot Verwoerd in a failed assassination attempt. Six years later, Verwoerd was stabbed to death in the parliamentary chamber by temporary parliamentary messenger Demetrio Tsefendas, a Mozambican immigrant of mixed descent.
Sometimes Desmond Tutu made the whole exercise look like a huge play in front of an audience of engaged spectators. His role, he said, was prescribed by his big nose and his short and unusual name !!!
But it was a painful role he carried. Nelson Mandela chose him to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. On the first day, as the first person described how he had been tortured by apartheid agents, Desmond Tutu couldn’t stand it. He burst into tears.
That never happened again. He must have strengthened himself for the work he had promised to do. But if we thought his job was done, his job was not done. Power and Truth do not go together unless a visionary man or woman brings them together. And that’s what Desmond Tutu was busy doing with the rest of his life, which was so long at 90 and yet for us was so short. But ultimately God does not die. Tutu lives.