Man smiling in black clothing
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Remembering Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa

While known for his ebullient smile and spirit, this BBC story tells how Tutu was despised by both white supporters of the apartheid system and later by post-apartheid ANC government leaders who Tutu scolded for their decline into corruption. Rev. Michael Battle, author of a spiritual biography of Tutu, writes that “What grounded him, enabling him to bear up under these maelstroms, was God. What made Tutu holy was God.” Dr. Peter Storey, a Tutu colleague as the white leader of South Africa's Council of Churches, tells the BBC, "Tutu wasn't a front for political movements. I think that's what gave him his moral and spiritual freedom… Desmond could point out to them - if you claim to be Christian, how can you possibly treat my people like this?" Storey says Tutu “had the ability to channel people's anger, and then the ability to say 'we are better than those people who are up against us, we don't have to be like them.’” This BBC photo and video essay capture Tutu’s powerful spirit and voice, from clips of preaching against apartheid, to dancing with joy, to crying with victims testifying during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was a rare witness who embodied Psalm 85:10: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

(Recommended reading from our February 2022 Global Briefing)