News & Updates
May 17, 2017
Editor’s note: On this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we revisit a 2014 interview Archbishop Tutu did with Ann Curry. This interview was conducted prior to his daughter Mpho’s coming out of the closet to him.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who led a decades-long fight against racial discrimination in South Africa, says the oppression of gay people around the world is the “new Apartheid.” In an interview arranged by the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, the retired Anglican archbishop spoke openly with NBC’s Ann Curry about God, the Bible, and homophobia.
January 16, 2017
This article written by Charles Krauthammer and originally appeared in his syndicated column on January 17, 1986, three days before the first national holiday honoring the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1987, Mr. Krauthammer won the Pulitzer prize for commentary and this was his winning entry.
The accepted wisdom in South Africa, Lionel Abrahams, a literary critic, told Joseph Lelyveld of The New York Times, has it that “nothing will do but that hard black men come to grips with hard white men, to which end the soft men between must clear out of the way.”
In revolution, the soft men between must always clear out of the way. Revolution is not for moderates. From Alexander Kerensky to Arturo Cruz, nothing changes: the man of qualms, of balance, of ambivalence is lost.
Bishop Desmond Tutu — Nobel Peace Prize winner, anti-apartheid activist and leading spokesman for nonviolence in South Africa — is not a hard man. “I am the marginal man between two forces, and possibly I will be crushed,” he admits. “But that is where God has placed me, and I have accepted the vocation.”
The miracle of Martin Luther King, Jr., what set him apart even from Desmond Tutu, was the militance of his moderation, the steel will with which he insisted not just on his ends but on his means.
In a revolution, unwavering pursuit of ends is no great distinction. Everyone has an idea about destination. But only great, hard men are sure exactly of the path. Men like Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh. (The list is depressingly long.)
Or like Gandhi, who believed with religious certainty that satyagraha, truth-force, was the way to freedom. And like King, who never wavered in his commitment to nonviolence, and who understood that for the moderate to survive in revolutionary times he must stick as hard by his means as the hard men at the extremes do by theirs.
Tutu is also deeply personally committed to nonviolence, and has shown extraordinary personal courage in its service. At least twice he has risked his life to save a suspected informer from a murderous mob. Last August in Daveyton, he stood alone between black demonstrators and heavily armored South African troops and negotiated a solution that averted certain violence.
Tutu’s nonviolence, however, seems more a personal choice. “I wouldn’t, myself, carry guns or fight and kill. But I would be there to minister to people who thought they had no alternative.” Asked two days ago whether there is any justification for violence, he replied, “If I were young … I would have rejected Bishop Tutu long ago.”
Personal choices are not forced on others. Instead, says Tutu, tactics are not even his domain. “I am an idealist. It is unfair to ask an idealist how he will move toward a utopian goal.”
King was forever telling people how to move. His means were as inseparable a part of his being and his message as his ends. King made nonviolence the cornerstone of his philosophy of social action. Tutu’s two books, “Crying in the Wilderness” and “Hope and Suffering,” are a passionate, prophetic call for reconciliation and negotiation. But of the books’ 62 speeches, sermons and writings, not one is devoted to the theory and practice of nonviolence. For Tutu, nonviolence is a discipline, a matter of conscience. For King, it was that and more: a weapon, a matter of hard political strategy.
Tutu is King’s natural heir. On Monday, the first annual holiday commemorating King’s birth, that kinship receives ratification from King’s living memorial, the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change. It will award Tutu its 1986 Non-Violent Peace Prize.
To compare Tutu to King is therefore inevitable, though it is perhaps unfair. First, because King was a great political leader and Tutu does not pretend to be one at all. “I am just a religious leader standing in for the real leaders of our people who are in jail and exile,” he says. “If I am a leader it is only by default.”
But more important, because South Africa is not America. There is no Kennedy, no Johnson. No franchise. No white public ready to be galvanized to action by scenes of Southern violence. South Africa is all South, old South.
Tutu knows that well. “Nonviolence presupposes a minimum moral level. And when that minimum moral level does not operate, I don’t think nonviolence can succeed.” The oppressor society must be capable of “moral revulsion.” It happened in Gandhi’s Britain and King’s America. “I don’t see that happening here,” says Tutu.
The Pretoria regime won’t talk to him. And the young black militants want him out, says Tutu, so they can “get on with the revolution” without him. The hard men want the soft men to move.
King would not be moved. True, he was more fortunate than Tutu in his choice of birthplace. America had the capacity for shame that is the necessary condition for the success of nonviolence. But it is also a sufficient condition. The ground needs a figure. Nonviolent revolution needs a hard man to lead it. America was even luckier than King for his choice of birthplace. Monday, we give thanks for that good fortune.
November 18, 2016
Millions of girls are married as children. This fact harms our human family and reminds us how deeply biased our world still is against mothers, sisters and daughters. We now have a moral duty to end one of humankind’s most destructive traditions. Experts say it is feasible in one generation.
Maybe because I am a man, I have spent much of my life ignorant of the scale and awfulness of child marriage. But, in recent years, I have talked to many girls and women who have educated me. It wasn’t until my retirement that I realised that one in three women in the developing world is married before the age of 18, or understood what they risk as a result.
Across the world, girls are powerless to choose when they marry, to whom, or whether they marry at all. The day of their marriage is the day they give up school. Under pressure to bear children, they cannot negotiate safe or consensual sex. As pregnant young mothers, they face the danger of injury and death. Indeed, childbirth is one of the biggest killers of teenage girls in the developing world — and their children face the same tragic odds.
Marrying a girl young, often to a much older man, is a sure way to inflict poverty and inequality in her community. But there is an alternative: to end this cycle is to free a girl to be safe and healthy — to let her flourish and become who she wants to be, on her own terms.
Five years ago, I organised a… continue reading on Financial Times
November 9, 2016
This morning, the morning after the 2016 election, President Obama, Secretary Clinton and President-elect Trump have all made the obligatory calls for unity, for us to come together as a nation. But after eighteen months of highlighting divisions, how do we do that? I think all of us in the U.S. woke up this morning knowing one thing for sure – our country is divided. On cable news, social media and over the dinner table, people have been in deep arguments over the state of our nation, and no matter who our preference for candidate, we are dismayed that anyone could ever vote for the other.
Last Sunday, I had a lively discussion with my father about politics. He lives in rural Texas and was telling me how he doesn’t know a single person who supports Hillary Clinton. I live in California’s Silicon Valley and said the same thing about Donald Trump. It occurred to me during that conversation that we live in two separate realities – worlds that might appear to be the same, but where we have different life experiences, interact with different people, and for the most part, have different priorities for what we want out of life.
As I begrudgingly logged into social media this morning, I witnessed people expressing shock and dismay at the outcome of the election, while I also witnessed people taking gleeful joy that the nightmare of the last eight years is almost over. I personally have felt a variety of emotions over the last 12 or so hours, but I think the emotion that stands out most is sadness. Not sadness over the outcome (although admittedly there is a little of that), but sadness that as Americans, there is such a deep divide in our society and we are somehow not able or willing to understand what the other is going through.
At the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, one of our guiding principals is the South African concept of ubuntu. Archbishop Tutu has explained ubuntu as meaning “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” That is to say that we are ALL part of a greater whole – not just the people we agree with, not just the people that have the same passions and desires as us – ALL of us.
One thing that has struck me today is that so many are now cutting people out of their lives – people that they once considered friends and in many instances, people that are family. I don’t personally think this is a great idea and I feel it is contrary to the spirit of ubuntu. It isn’t recognizing your shared humanity with people who disagree with you – it is doing the opposite, choosing to instead divide yourself even more. I understand that sometimes one feels the need to get perceived negativity out of their lives. But I would encourage everyone first to reach out, and learn more about what factors are going into their decision making process. Your assumption that someone is racist or homophobic or misogynistic might be totally accurate… OR ,that person may have been out of work for most of the last 2.5 years and can’t afford rent this month and saw one candidate as a someone who was working to address their needs.
Today, some of us are celebrating the outcome of this election and some of us are mourning it. I encourage everyone to take the time they need to do what they need to do. But despite candidates over the last 18 months telling us differently, there really is more that unites us than divides us. We need to remember that we are all in this together and it is only by listening to each other, working with each other and respecting each other, that any of us will have a way forward.
This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post
October 25, 2016
This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
On October 7th, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, was able to do something remarkable. We launched Facebook Live: #TutuAt85, a multi-continent celebration of the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 85th birthday. From Cape Town to Los Angeles and everywhere in between, people around the world joined on social media to with celebrate our Arch – all thanks to the wonderful support of our friends at Facebook.
The celebration kicked off with a first – even for the social networking platform – at 7 am SAST, Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation launched a Facebook Live stream of the Friday Eucharist, presided by the Archbishop himself. This event was unique as it marked the first time a major church service had ever been streamed live to Facebook. Thousands across the globe joined friends, family and community members gathered in St George’s Cathedral to rejoice and celebrate the life of this amazing man. In addition to the traditional Eucharist service, the Archbishop paid a moving tribute to the cathedral, where he paused to weep briefly.
That afternoon, the #ShareTheJoy team live-streamed as they went through downtown Cape Town, inspiring young people to perform acts of joy – a campaign inspired by the recent book by Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama, The Book of Joy. The streets of downtown Cape Town came alive as the #ShareTheJoy Team handed out cupcakes to passers by.
For six years now, the celebration of the Archbishop’s birthday celebration day culminates in South Africa with the Desmond Tutu Annual Peace Lecture. An event sponsored by the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, this year’s lecture was hosted by Ms. Hina Jilani, an award-winning Pakistani Supreme Court advocate and human rights campaigner. Ms. Jilani who is a member of The Elders, an organization co-founded by Archbishop Tutu, gave a compelling speech on the need for peace in our communities. We were able to live-stream this event with the assistance of SABC television.
Of course, when the the celebration (at least the live-streaming portions) was wrapping up in Cape Town, we were just getting started celebrating across the globe! Friends and admirers of the Archbishop went live with their #TutuAt85 to share their birthday wishes to the Arch. Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Alanis Morissette, Graça Machel, FW de Klerk and so many others took time throughout the day to wish the Archbishop a Happy 85th!
And while dawn was breaking in Cape Town, the party was just getting started in Los Angeles! Quincy Jones, Incubus, Fishbone, Lily Haydn, Pato Banton, Steve Vai, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and so many more artists joined Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation for UNITY: The Desmond Tutu Legacy Project. The three hour event was a celebration of the Archbishop kicked off the beginning of #TutuAt85, the first of a series of concerts scheduled to take place in cities all over the world. This entire event was shared live with tens of thousands of people across the world.
We are so especially grateful to everyone who helped to make the Archbishop’s 85th birthday an extra special one, and especially to our friends at Facebook for providing us with the technology and platform to be able to share this amazing day with his friends and supporters all over the world.
If you missed any part of the Facebook Live: #TutuAt85, check out the video archives on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DesmondTutuPF/
August 19, 2016
Artists Come Together for MINI-BIG Show Benefit Concert Series to Celebrate Desmond Tutu’s 85th Birthday
For decades, Archbishop Tutu has preached a message of unity through ubuntu – what affects one of us, affects us all. On October 7, at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles, an all-star group of artists will unite to put this philosophy into practice with a concert in tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
The Los Angeles show kicks off UNITY: The Desmond Tutu Legacy Project, a global effort spearheaded by the Archbishop, his daughter Mpho Tutu and the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation to ensure his work for peace, justice, and equality continues for generations to come. Each concert will unify musicians, actors, artists, and activists who will lend their voices to raise awareness of Tutu’s life work and global impact. All artists are donating their time for this international cause.
The first UNITY Mini-Big Show will be held on Archbishop Tutu’s 85th birthday, October 7, 2016. It will coincide with a series of events attended by the Archbishop in Cape Town, South Africa, including a concert and the 6th Annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture. These events will mark the beginning of a year-long celebration of Archbishop Tutu’s life, culminating in October 2017, with an all-star grand finale event that will take place in Cape Town when numerous international artists come together for a birthday tribute concert and Legacy Award ceremony.
Each Mini-Big show is an intimate performance of notable artists designed to reach the largest audience possible worldwide. Each concert will take place in a theater as opposed to a stadium and will be live streamed in partnership with Facebook, with audio simulcasts on terrestrial radio in each market.
Additional Mini-Big Shows will be held throughout 2016-7. Confirmed cities, dates, and acts include: Toronto, November 2016; New York, December 2016; Miami, March 2017; Atlanta, April 2017; with more cities to be announced.
Each Mini-Big concert will be filmed for inclusion in an exclusive retrospective documentary on Archbishop Tutu’s life story, produced by Sir Bob Geldof, which will trace the evolution of his extraordinary legacy. The documentary will feature rare archival footage and interviews with iconic personalities including Annie Lennox, Bono, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Steve Tyler, Alfre Woodard, Sean Paul, Johnny Clegg, and others who have been inspired by his work. Quincy Jones will serve as Executive Producer of an all-star soundtrack to complement the film.
Special thanks to our sponsors – Facebook, Astrella, Glow Living, Guitar Center and Musician’s Institute.
Tickets for the Los Angeles show go on sale at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 at ticketmaster.com. There will be a fan pre-sale for American Express Card holders that beganon Wednesday, Aug. 17, and will run through 10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19. Ticket prices range from $60 to $105. Twenty VIP tickets are available for $250 each, which include front row seats, a private meet and greet with the artists, access to the backstage reception (after the show), and a commemorative poster created and signed by artist Bob Masse.