Archbishop Desmond Tutu
1931 – 2021
He’s Left Us.
by Mary Wald
The last time I saw Archbishop Tutu, we sat together on the deck of a house in Laguna Beach, the conversation periodically punctuated by a crashing wave, our faces warmed by the autumn sun. He was concerned that I hadn’t been able to get one of my projects funded.
He told me he would send a message to one of his many celebrity friends, asking him to fund the project for $200,000. He would tell his friend: If you don’t fund this project, you’ll go to a very warm place after you die, and I don’t want to see you burn up. Then he let out his famous cackle, the contagious one, the one that warms your soul just remembering it. He sent the message after our meeting.
Tutu stopped signing letters about human rights and social justice issues years ago. He wanted his time to be his own, to take care of his wife. But even more importantly, he said it was time for others to pick up the baton.
He had been the human rights advisor for my web site for 14 years before retiring. We met in New York, Kalamazoo, Pasadena, Cape Town. He advised me on relationships. He didn’t like where I was living. For many years we corresponded weekly, sometimes two or three times a week. And trust me, this says much more about him than it does about me.
THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE
Archbishop Tutu was one of the two South African figures widely credited with bringing about the fall of South Africa’s oppressive Apartheid regime. The first Archbishop in South Africa’s Episcopalian Church, “the Arch” as he has been lovingly known, was an immutable voice for justice and minister to hundreds of thousands of Black South Africans. With his eloquence, humor but most of all his passion for justice, he kept his country on the road to non-violent change when it seemed at times a powder key ready to explode.
Tutu was appointed by Nelson Mandela to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a landmark national council that brought the light of truth to the atrocities committed during Apartheid and, often bringing victims and perpetrators together, ushered in a new age of forgiveness and reconciliation for South Africa.
His voice will continue to be heard. His work, as a revered activist and guiding light for justice and equality across the globe, will continue, in the hands of all of us who have been touched by him.
Our friend, our advisor, our catalyst. Our work:
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Standing for Democracy
José Ramos-Horta, Chairman of The Community’s Advisory Board, is a founding father of our millennium’s first new democracy, Timor-Leste. A freedom fighter whose work was integral to lifting a 24-year occupation of his nation, he was awarded the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for his work. He then served as Prime Minister and President of the new nation.
At the end of his term he was asked by the UN Secretary General to service as Special Representative of the Secretary General to Guinea Bissau, where he helped to sherpherd the nation from a military coup through democratic elections and the reimplentation of democracy. He co-chaired the UN High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.
Serving and aiding his people as one his nation’s valued “elders,” Ramos-Horta continues to use his international recognition and wisdom to support democracies under threat around our world. Some highlights of his recent work:
Global Leaders to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: Stop the Atrocities in Tigray
Seven highly respected international leaders in conflict resolutions, including José Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, have issued a call to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for immediate action to bring a halt to the atrocities being committed in the Tigray region of his nation.
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