I was shocked to hear that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu had passed away on the 26th, and like the death of Nelson Mandela it has been something that we all knew was inevitable but hoped would not happen.
I first learnt about him way back when I was in school and what I heard back then would pretty much leave me with a dislike of him for seemingly using religion to talk politics. Many have attributed the loss of Anglican Church congregations to him and he was not a favourite amongst white South Africans. He was the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and Bishop of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, however, he was also a logical and often defiant voice in the middle of the chaos of an erupting South Africa, and once 1994 came was pretty much a leading light in the madness that was (and still is) South African politics.
His role in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was heavily debated (and defended) as was the whole idea behind the TRC. However, that voice of sanity and reason was really the voice that we needed to hear at the time. Love him or hate him Desmond Tutu was somebody that South Africa turned to when it needed to hear the right thing. Sadly though, the mismanagement and corruption that would engulf the country was not as widely condemned as people liked and to be frank I do not recall ever hearing him say anything about it, although I believe he did speak up on a number of occasions. I suspect that he was very disappointed in what the new government made up of his people eventually became.
My viewpoint of Desmond Tutu has changed over the years as I became more aware of our disgraceful past and of course I am more rational now. I do consider that he was one of the right people at the right time and I know that South Africa has lost yet another giant. His lone voice of sanity will be sorely missed and people on both sides of the colour line will mourn his loss.
Hamba Kahle Arch, thanks for being there when we needed you and for facing all that disdain and hatred with courage and determination. You will be missed.
DRW 2021-2022. Created 26/12/2021. Photograph by Benny Gool, Archbishop-Tutu-medium, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons. Sourced from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Tutu