Not having known this voice in the wilderness, profit of our generation and justice crusader with a big heart was to have argued yourself unknown.

By Stephen Linjesa

This week we mourn the sad passing on of Archbishop Desmond Emeritus Mpilo Tutu, on December 26, 2021, aged 90, in Cape Town, whose ashes were subsequently interred at the St George’s Cathedral, also in Cape Town, on New Year’s Day.

Terrible news of the passing on of the Archbishop hit the world with the full force of a giant asteroid plunging the entire human race into an abyss of despair. Indeed, not having known this voice in the wilderness, profit of our generation and justice crusader with a big heart who was a true prophet of the universally beloved community of faith, peace and justice was to have argued yourself unknown.

This larger-than-life humanitarian, who won at Oslo in 1984 the Noble Peace Prize for non-violent opposition to apartheid, was cut from the same cloth as other members of a creatively maladjusted non-conforming minority like Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, deemed the consciences of their own generations for they chose to meet physical force with soul force, hate with love, and fought their greatest battles over Casspirs, teargas and bullets with love, kindness and compassion.

 

 

John Stuart Mill once said, “What distinguishes the majority from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs.” To which I add the voice of German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who said, ”A man is made by his belief. As he believes so he is.”

The Arch, as he was affectionately known, was a fearless, extremely intelligent and highly educated hero known, not for the loftiness of his carriage, but for his firm convictions which he wore like his mantle seldom taking the paths with the least resistance and the least trouble.

Despite suffering from tuberculosis for some time and being surrounded by some of the gravest injustices and most intolerable cruelties of all time, this indomitable spirit never lost hope or his dream of a “rainbow nation” where the leopard and the lamb would lie down together peacefully under the same tree.

Relentlessly, he fought against old man apartheid and helped to put him on his deathbed.

A moulder of consensus rather than a searcher of consensus, the Archbishop chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that healed a sick and bleeding nation by choosing love and leniency over revenge and recriminations.

 

 

Furthermore, as the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches and later the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town he refused to be numbered wrongly among those spiritual leaders who were neither dead nor alive but were merely existing in an unfair and unjust system through complacent adjustment and the blatant avoidance of the unarmed truth.

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu arrived at the inescapable conclusion that cooperation with good was as much a moral obligation as non-cooperation with evil.

Moreover, he realised – to use his own words – that “Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone’s back.”

Opting for the former, he became a conscientious objector who was also a great man of action. In this way he made South Africa stronger because he made it better.

Yet he did not stop there. He rose to the majestic heights of altruism by allowing his loyalties to transcend his race, his tribe, his class, and also his nation.

 

 

He became a global campaigner of human rights and a universal champion for the oppressed who sought to defeat poverty, hunger and misery in order to bring about world peace, security and comfort for all people.

Throughout his life the Archbishop Desmond Tutu aspired for something absolute and eternal putting his extraordinary intellect, extensive academic achievements and religious service to the injection of new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.

He completed the hard service of the flesh with finesse and aplomb. And, I say in the words of George Santayana: “For a man who had done his natural duty, death is as natural as sleep.”

May the Archbishop Desmond Tutu sleep well!

 

 

 

 

Stephen Linjesa is the founding director and executive chairman of a multi-media company called Triple A Arts Solutions (Pvt) Ltd. He is by training a finance person, by inclination an entrepreneur and by nature an artist. You can reach him on +263 773 815 836 or on tripleaccls@gmail.com.

 

See Also

A Life Well Lived: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond

 

 

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