News / South Africa

Brian Sokutu
Senior Print Journalist
2 minute read
7 Oct 2021
8:51 pm

The truth and nothing but the truth – from Tutu’s lips

Brian Sokutu

A thorn in the flesh of the Nationalist Party-led government during apartheid, Tutu has equally taken the ANC to task for its failures in the post-democratic SA.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Picture: Carl DE SOUZA/AFP

Internationally acclaimed Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has walked where others feared to tread.

A thorn in the flesh of the Nationalist Party-led government during apartheid, Tutu has equally taken the ANC to task for its failures in the post-democratic SA.

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The Citizen selected some of Tutu’s defining quotes:

  • In a speech delivered in 1984 on the 40th anniversary of the Republic of South Africa. “History, like beauty, depends largely on the beholder. So, when you read that, for example, David Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls, you might be forgiven for thinking that there was nobody around the falls until Livingstone arrived on the scene.”
  • At the height of apartheid repression, with SA under a state of emergency, Tutu told the New York Times in January 1985: “For goodness’s sake, will they hear, will white people hear what we are trying to say? Please, all we are asking you to do is recognise that we are humans too.”
  • He told an NBC interviewer in 1986: “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of human rights.”
  • In 1986, Tutu told the Sunday Times Magazine of UK: “We who advocate peace are becoming an irrelevance when we speak peace. The government speaks rubber bullets, live bullets, teargas, police dogs, detention and death.”
  • He also had words for former US president Ronald Reagan in 1986, who refused to put sanctions against South Africa: “Your president is the pits as far as blacks are concerned. I think the West, for my part, can go to hell.”
  • Attacking the ANC in 2011 for banning the Dalai Lama from travelling to SA for his 80th birthday, a visibly angry Tutu, said: “Our government is worse than the apartheid government, because at least you would expect it with the apartheid government… You, President Zuma and your government, do not represent me. I am warning you, as I warned the nationalists, one day we will pray for the defeat of the ANC.”