When Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Emeritus Desmond Tututook the stage at Clowes Memorial Hall Thursday
evening, he asked for a moment of silence to honor the anniversary of 9/11 and
the Sept. 12, 1977, assassination of South African anti-apartheid activist
The rest of the evening was a celebration — of the
power of love, possibility and the promise that good overcomes evil even in the
face of what may appear to be overwhelming odds. Prior to Tutu's arrival on
stage, Butler President James M. Danko and CTS President Matthew Myer Boulton
announced the establishment of the Desmond Tutu Center, a joint venture in
peace and reconciliation studies between the two institutions.
Financial support from the Dungy Family Foundation along with
several other individuals made possible Tutu's visit — and the center's
"I would like to thank you both for your two institutions,
for wonderful collaborating in establishing this joint center named after
me," Tutu said. "I am completely bowled over. One of the benefits of
complexion like mine is that no one notices when you are blushing ...
"Adding to the very specialness of this occasion is that
it is going to be a center headed up by a wonderful, gifted — indeed
charismatic — compatriot with a scintillating record in the history of
our liberation, this young professor, Allan Boesak
Boesak and Tutu enjoy a close friendship, solidified through
years of standing against the injustice of apartheid.
"You presidents are really smart," Tutu said to Boulton
and Danko. "I can understand why you are presidents, you are smart in
picking Allan to be director of this center. You should see him addressing
thousands. You've had a tiny taste of it here ...
"The people could do anything he told them to do. He
would energize them, inspire. He's been given an incredible gift. ... He was one of youngest
presidents of World Alliance of Reformed Churches, not because he is precocious,
just outstandingly brilliant."
Boesak said he was delighted that "a friendship of over
30 years will be solidified in something other than memories of yesterday; I
look forward to building not just a future of ourselves and the young people of
South Africa, but the young people of Indianapolis, the young people of
Indiana, the young people of the United States and the young people of the
He added, "We will try to create an atmosphere of
excitement. ... We will try to bring people together from across the world in a
conference that every year will seek to find ways in which the legacy of Tutu
can find expression. Even for those with faith in nothing more than
Organizers estimate that more than 2,100 people attended the
Tutu, the 1984 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and South
African President Nelson Mandela's choice to lead he post-apartheid Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, is a world-renowned advocate for peace.
In honor of the occasion of his visit and the center
established to extend his legacy, we offer some excerpts from Tutu's speech.
"I used to come here and your heart just leapt to see
... especially young people on university campuses worrying about me when they
ought be worried about grades and exams. ... They were fantastic because they
were involved in anti-apartheid movement, the Free South Africa movement ... out
demonstrating seeking to force their institution to divest.
"You had a ... president who was opposed to sanctions, President
Reagan. But do you know what? Because of the education of all those involved in
the anti-apartheid struggle supporting us, especially young people, it was
fantastic because they helped to change the moral climate in the United States
to the extent Congress was able to pass anti-Apartheid legislation with a
presidential veto override.
"That is the stuff of which your predecessors were made
of. They could change."
"We would not have seen our freedom without your
help. ... It was one of the great privileges we had, to come to this country
and say, 'Please, help us.' And you gave us the help, and today we are free. It
is a privilege to be able return and say 'Hey guys ... and guy-esses! Thank you. Thank you.'"
"Think of how we greet someone who removed the
shackles from your ankles ... I have something really special. I have a magic wand – an
incredible instrument and I wave it over people. You know? It will turn you
into instant South Africans. It's so special that only clever people
can see it.
"I wave it over you. Then I can say, 'Fellow South Africans, let'sgive these Americans a real humdinger
of an applause!'"
"When missionaries came to our part of the world,
they had the Bible, and we had the land. And they said, 'Let us pray.' We dutifully
shut our eyes and when they said, 'Amen,' we had the Bible and they had the
"Well, some people reckon that we made a very bad, bad
bargain. But, ha, no. Friends, no. For in that situation of injustice and
oppression, the last thing you should give to the oppressed is a Bible.It was the most revolutionary
thing you could have had.
"Those people who treat us like dirt, they've already lost, they've already lost — they've already lost because this
is a moral universe. This is where right will ultimately prevail. ...
"The God we worship is notoriously biased in favor of
the downtrodden, in favor of the poor, in favor of the outcast.
"If we really believed what the Bible tells us, you
and I will not just shake hands, we would genuflect and, like the Buddhists,
say, 'The God in me greets the god in you.'
"If we really believed this, just imagine the state of
"It's not our politics that inspires us to do the
things that we are doing; it is our faith. We had to ask (South Africa's
oppressors), which Bible do you read?
"And you remember, when Jesus predicted his coming death
in the fourth Gospel. He says of it, 'If were lifted up, I will draw all.' He
didn't say some... 'I'll draw all.'
"Clever, foolish, rich, poor, white, black, Christian, Muslim,
Buddhist. I will draw all, all, all. Assad. Obama. All, all, all. Gay, lesbian,
transgender ... When I am lifted up, I will draw all, all, all in an incredible
embrace where no one is left out."
"Suppose people were to go and bomb Syria. They
are already devastated. You Americans are some of the most generous creatures
God ever created. George Bush will probably be remembered for two things: The
illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq, but he'll also be remembered for an
incredible thing he gave. He set up something called PEPFA. We salute him because
he invested in resources that should be used to combat malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.
"Why don't you drop food and not bombs?"
Thanks to Heather Meloy for videotaping the visit.