‘I am deeply, deeply sorry’: Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

I want to apologise, to ask for forgiveness on behalf of our people. I am deeply, deeply sorry. I want to apologise that we could be so inhuman.

Please, please, I call on our people: don’t let us dehumanise ourselves.

We are acting contrary to our best nature. We are acting contrary to those we should be showing gratitude to; people who helped us become what we are, a free nation.

We are going back to that horrendous, gruesome thing we had — the necklacing. No matter how upset you might be, to do that, to set a person alight while they are alive, speaks volumes about the state of your own humanity.

Please, please, please, for all our sakes, let us open our hearts. I think it has to do with competition for resources and, in this case, it’s jobs, it’s accommodation, it’s houses.

It’s a reflection of our not having succeeded entirely as a nation to ensure that many more were able to share in the peace dividend.

Far too many are still living in shacks. Far too many are unemployed. The 5 percent growth rate has not been sufficient to soak up unemployment.

We human beings, ever since the garden of Eden, are looking for scapegoats. We remain children of Adam and Eve, and have the genes for looking for excuses.

I think we have to say: “Yes, we have all of these reasons, but they don’t justify the attacks. They don’t allow us to condone them.”

When we were struggling against apartheid, many of our young people left, especially in the wake of June 1976. Our children went into exile and were welcomed in the countries of Africa.

A number of frontline states were willing to provide military bases at great cost to themselves. They ran the gauntlet of attacks by the SADF.

These people are from countries far less well off than ours, but they were willing to share resources. There is this competition for resources and things are not good, but on the basis of what we owe them, we should be saying: “We will try all we can to help.”

Ubuntu would be devastated in our current context.

We have got to get the Zimbabwean government to solve their problems. We have 3.5 million Zimbabweans who have come to South Africa. We ought to act with dispatch to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.

If we have been backward in coming forward, this should be putting fire under us.

Please forgive us. This is not how we are. And we say thank you to the many who have provided food and clothes to people. Thank you for all of those who are prepared to say: “I see my Lord and Saviour in another.”

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, known as the “conscience of South Africa”, was the country’s first black Anglican archbishop. Instrumental in the end of apartheid for his insistence on economic sanctions against the state, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and the Magubela prize for liberty in 1986, and the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007.