Tag Archive: Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Tutu and No_bob

This is a continuation of the previous post which started giving an overview and summary of my participation in the  ‘Revisiting The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Faith Community Hearing’ which took place this week. Here are some selected highlight moments that could be captured on The Tweeterer in 140 characters of less:


While 140 character messages don’t capture the whole of what was experienced, hopefully they will help you to catch a bit of a glimpse:

Michael Weeder (Anglican): I have to ask, Where is God in this? And what is the work of God in this moment?

Michael Weeder (Anglican): What was abnormal then? And what of that abnormal has become normal for us today? We need to revisit.

Michael Weeder: It seems darker than yesterday. We have to drink deeply from our own wells.

: Michael Weeder: You don’t shout at people, but there comes a time when you need to. It’s time to extend this to big business.

Michael Weeder: The chains have in many ways slipped to the mind.


Vuyani Nyobole (methodist): We are prone to many of the sins that it is our duty to condemn.

Vuyani Nyobole: Unfinished agenda of TRC – TRC unfortunately favoured the perpetrators over the victims. Shortcoming of previous TRC

Vuyani Nyobole: We focused too much on the Truth and not enough on the Reconciliation. It was therapeutic in many ways.

Vuyani Nyobole: it wasn’t the responsibility of the government to bring reconciliation. That should have been led by faith communities.

Vuyani Nyobole: There is a responsibility on us as faith communities for critical reflection on the state of things.

Vuyani Nyobole: If there is corruption in the government, most of those people sit in our pews. It is the responsibility of the church.


Dion Foster (methodist): I don’t think we’re living in a post apartheid society. Law has changed. Society remains largely unchanged.

Archbishop Tutu interrupts with, “That’s why I am glad I retired when I did.” (Laughter)

 Dion Foster on Culpability: We are a large religious community in this country. But we have not translated that presence into action.


Yasmin Sooka (panel) The presidents fund is really huge. But 19 years later, reparations have not yet happened?


Kevin Dowling (catholic): Where we failed was the statements didn’t necessarily move to the conversion process. The same is true today.

Kevin Dowling: Unless the privileged community go through a conversion process that affects them personally, change has not happened.

Kevin Dowling Unless you’ve held the hand that that statistic represents, you know nothing about their story.

Kevin Dowling: a transitional justice must always begin from the story and the voices of the victims.

Kevin Dowling: Retributive justice or Restorative justice – are we going to heal or punish?

Kevin Dowling: No transformation has taken place until we see economic justice and restoration.

Kevin Dowling: Restitution. Our victims, our survivors, were sold short.

Kevin Dowling: If you want peace, you have to work for justice. But very very often peace agreements to end violence sacrifice justice.

Kevin Dowling: Who will take us forward? An empowered violated disenfranchised people. We need to be in the trenches with our people.

Kevin Dowling: We cannot anymore carry on with the perception that government must do everything. Cos government can’t do everything.

Kevin Dowling: We need to forget about appearing on TV and be in the shacks, in the trenches, in the reality of our people.

Kevin Dowling just brought up the issue of immigration which is going to “exacerbate the issue of poverty.” The govt needs to address.


Piet Meiring (panel) we have to remember that justice and reconciliation have to go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

Yasmin Sooka: Restorative justice and punitive justice. What about the forgotten one of Redistributive justice?


Jerry Pillay (Presbyterian): Gender justice is also an important need for the church to focus on. And ecojustice.

Jerry Pillay: The need of practical aspects of reconciliation has largely been swept under the carpet. Many of us just want “to move on”.

Jerry Pillay: Churches need to ask, “How do we actually revisit what we do in light of changing contexts?”

Jerry Pillay: The vision must come with a reminder that this is a biblical imperative. Jesus prayed that we should be one.


Yasmin Sooka: in reality, gender equality remains elusive. Violence against women has become normalized.

Piet Meiring: the importance of the twinning of Unity and Reconciliation is an important thing we must never forget.


Kobus Gerber (NGK) An event like this brings tears to our eyes. Just to experience what we were part of being done to the people.


Peter Grove (URC) Will we make progress if we just repeat what was said 17 years ago? I don’t think so…

Peter Grove: We live our lives between the tension of memory and expectation.

Peter Grove: People constantly rewrite the past and redefine the future.

Peter Grove: Before we can move to attempts to do certain things we need to ask ourselves how to be certain things.

Peter Grove: We cannot talk about the squatters camps and the townships. We need to meet our brothers and sisters there.


E G Fourie (NHK) My church made it very clear to me I’m here in my individual capacity.

E G Fourie: So in my individual capacity i want to say I’m sad that I’m here in my individual capacity.

 [E G Fourie just blew this whole thing open with raw rough real tear-filled-and-causing testimony. Heavy. So good.]

E G Fourie after heavy speech about some of the race struggles within his church: This is where our church is…now.

E G Fourie: Many moons ago when i was at school we had no such thing as political correctness.

E G Fourie: kids who were mentally challenged we called specials. They were put in a special class.

E G Fourie: My church when it comes to issues of reconciliation is in a slow class.

E G Fourie:Now we call it a special needs class. My church has special needs.

EG Fourie: We have a special need for forgiveness.

 [E G Fourie gets standing ovation as he breaks down and Tutu goes forward and embraces him. Real moment.]


Amie van Wyk: Let me explain my name. My name is Jan. My dad’s name is Jan. Our worker was Jan. The donkey’s name was Jan.

Amie van Wyk: So my mom changed my name. (Tutu in loud hysterics)


Daniel Andrews (AFM): We must see what is happening in society through the eyes of those who are suffering.


Glenda [panel]: Intergenerational trauma that adults carry that we must deal with so children don’t carry the scars on.


Frank Chikane (AFM) The constitution must reflect what the Lord wants us to be.

Frank Chikane: If justice calls for us to go this way we must do it, whatever the cost.


Tutu: God puts Himself/Herself in our hands. And we’ve messed up His reputation.

Tutu: I actually saw God smiling through the tears today. Thank you for wanting to help Me make my world a better place.

Tutu: It is up to you and you and you whether this country becomes a hell or a paradise. God doesn’t have anyone else.


So those are a number of the Tweets i sent out while listening on day 1 – even though you might not have been there ad even though these do not fully carry the heart of the different testimonies, there is still food for thought in here and enough to make you stop and go, ‘Wo!’ and hopefully think and reflect some more.

[To continue on to Part III and the tweets from Day 2 of the Commission, click here]

I have just finished reading the biography of Archbishop Desmond Tutu from  South Africa and this paragraph from right at the end of the book stood out powerfully for me. The idea that it is both those who commit violence and attrocity and those who are the victims of it who suffer as a result of it. Both are in need of great help:

tutuIf Tutu’s lifelong advocacy of justice was difficult, demanding, and contentious, then his vision for how to bring about reconciliation was surely more so. In his formulation, ubuntu-botho equips you to look at your torturers, to realise that they need your help and to stand ready to enable them to regain their humanity. Such a philosophy scandalizes the world. Yet, extraordinarily, it empowers the survivors of torture, for it enables them to take control of their lives, to take initiatives instead of remaining trapped in victimhood, waiting helplessly for the perpetrators to act. Thus ubuntu-botho gives contemporary, practical meaning to God’s forgiveness of the people of Israel recorded by the prophet Hosea, and to Christ’s words from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” [Hosea 11.1-9, Luke 23.24] But ubuntu-botho does not allow perpetrators to escape the necessity of confessing and making restitution to survivors, since it places the needs of society – the restoration of relationship – at the heart of reconciliation. As Tutu once told a priest who challenged his views on the subject: “God’s gift of forgiveness is gracious and unmerited but you must be willing to… appropriate the gift.”

[from the biography ‘Desmond Tutu: Rabble-Rouser for Peace’ by John Allen]

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy similiar themed posts:

Forgiveness in under 50 words

How to condemn evil while loving evil people

I need to be stronger


i found this quote somewhere [ironically not in the Biography of Desmond Tutu which I am close to finishing reading] and posted it on Facebook and it really resonated with people:

‘I know of no aid dropped from a helicopter or dictated from afar that has ever taken root. Whenever, Jesus entered the slums, he came on the back of a donkey and in a cloud of dust, face to face with poverty.’ [Archbishop Desmond Tutu]

footwashWhat tends to happen though with inspiring quotes, acts or books is that we see them and give them a standing ovation, but then a week later our lives look no different and so surely the message there is that it was really a waste of time…

One thing that was exciting about our time at The Simple Way was meeting a large number of people who has read the book ‘The Irresistible Revolution’ by Shane Claiborne whose lives had completely been transformed as a result. People who had started ministries to people living on the streets or who had opened their homes to people in need or who were volunteering at places or giving money to place or whatever. When transformation takes place then you know that God is at work.

I met and had a conversation with a man called Nigel Branken recently [who you can read about in this post] who moves into Hillbrow with his family, into one of the toughest most crime-filled areas in the country to try and be part of the change he wants to see. So not just standing and clapping and waving and getting excited and hitting like or share or send, but taking an action that would no doubt have a huge cost attached. And then living that out day to day.

On the back of a donkey and in a cloud of dust, face to face with poverty.

There was the story of Temar Boggs recently, which largely went unnoticed in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case that was all over the news in Americaland. Normal kid doing an extraordinary thing in the face of huge injustice and becoming a hero, at least to one family.

And the closer to home there was a lot of introspection that happened on the step outside my door, involving coffee in a Marvin the Martian mug, where i started looking at the bigger picture of what must make Jesus sad, before bringing it back to the guy i see when i look in the mirror – Well, what are YOU doing, Brett? And so this three part series came from there culminating in me making the first tiny step [part III] towards the shift to more actively living out what i believe. And the change in that one relationship has been incredible. Daily greeting has progressed towards some type of relationship where we know a little bit more about the other person.

What about you? Do you cheer the Tutu quote and then return to life as is? Do you applaud the things Jesus says without letting them dictate inform how you live your life? Do you nod agreeingly when reading the bible yet live a life so differently from that which you read?

Basically is your faith real, honest and authentic? Do you look and smell a lot more like Jesus than you did last year? Is it a continuing process of growth and change or was it a once off decision you made one day sometime in the past when you stuck your hand up and repeated some prayer?

We are called to so much more. Jesus promised us life to the full and that is what we should be embracing, every day every day.

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