And so, it is we begin 2022 without one of the greatest religious leaders of modern times. We remember the life & mourn the loss of Archbishop Desmond Tutu whose funeral is on the first day of the New Year. Small in stature with an infectious, strange laugh & the South African man-shuffle when he danced, he was of course a giant! A giant campaigner & activist against the hideous apartheid regime of South Africa. A giant participant & chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission among South Africa’s new leadership; a commission housed in the Constitutional Court, built from the bricks of the Johannesburg prison (which had held women & men political prisoners, in segregated cells, (non-white prisoners in dormitories) as well anti-apartheid activists including Nelson Mandela & at one stage Gandhi.
About Desmon Tutu the president of South Africa President Ramaphosa said. “From the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals & places of worship, & the prestigious setting of the Nobel peace prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights.”
Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1984 & his ministry as an Anglican cleric & influence was world-wide. I like to think of an association with the bishop in my own theological studies in Oxford. When asked my degree mark I say I achieved a “Desmond” - that is a 2:2! But more importantly it was here I read his book The Rainbow People of God. Tutu’s writings & speeches culled from historic moments of the South African peoples struggle he speaks of a celebration of all Gods diversity; “ALL” being God’s people, regardless of skin colour of course, but also background & culture, wealth, sexuality, religion, or gender. A recent newspaper article follo