Desmond Tutu, the tireless voice of the oppressed

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, whose death at the age of 90 was announced Sunday, December 26, did not let anything go. No slippage, no abuse, no violation of human rights escaped his wrath. Throughout his life, under apartheid as under the successive black governments after the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, this little devil of a man in a mauve robe did not cease, in the name of justice and equity, to annoy the established powers, to take part in the rulers, to torment the powerful.

Energetic, talkative, mischievous, an actor at will, he never failed to criticize politicians wherever they come from. In the course of the multiple and epic battles he waged for human dignity, forgiveness and reconciliation, he had become « the » benevolent reference of a nation in reconstruction, « the » moral conscience of a country sporadically plagued. to the demons of the past.

For Senator Edward Kennedy, visiting Pretoria in the 1990s, Desmond Tutu was nothing less than « The Martin Luther King of South Africa ». The comparison had pleased him very much. He too had « Have a dream », the same, more or less, as that of the assassinated pastor. He too, like the great old American, was in his time hunted down, oppressed, vilified and regularly threatened with the worst by the supporters of what he called « The most vicious system ever invented since Nazism », namely the « Separate development of races » (l’apartheid).

For a long time, Desmond Tutu was, for members of the Afrikaner white minority (in power from 1948 to 1994), « The very embodiment of evil ». For a long time, until the last few months, he was, for many black ministers, « the patent bother, » the keeper of getting rich in circles, the tireless slayer of everything that was wrong in the « nation. Rainbow « .

So many risks and sacrifices

His courage, his skill, his sagacity, his effervescent, enveloping personality, his cascading laughter, his public tears, his devastating humor and his obvious benevolence towards all that pertained to the human will have ended up disarming the most excited about his criticism. “The People’s Archbishop,” as his friend Nelson Mandela had baptized him, left no one indifferent. But what work has been done, what risks have been taken and what sacrifices have been made to get there!

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born on October 7, 1931 in a small African village, which has now disappeared, two hours from Johannesburg. His father was a teacher in schools reserved for blacks and opened, before the invention of apartheid in 1948, by Christian missions. The Tutu family is poor « Without being miserable », he liked to clarify. It prevents. At the age of 4, the puny little Desmond fell victim to polio. He will retain discomfort in his left arm all his life.

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