University United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas
Saturday October 28, 9.30 – 4.00 pm Building Strategies for Reconciliation
Rabble-Rouser for Peace – The Life of Desmond Tutu
What does it take to be a peace maker? What non-violent actions change history? Who can we learn from? Who is a witness for peace in these troubled times? Who is the man behind the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?
“We had been surrounded by police, with dogs snarling at us. We were petrified, for nearly two hours. Some people were crying… The staff of the university, the white people—some of them armed—these professors were watching and nobody said a word, nobody.… Desmond [came] almost from nowhere, in a cassock… broke the police cordon and came to be among us. I recall moving scenes of young women kneeling to pray with Desmond for blessings. Even today when I recall that I get very emotional. For me that was the greatest example I could think of, of what to be a priest was about.” – N. Barney Pityana – former student, now university vice-chancellor
Barney Pityana’s description, recorded in the book, “Rabble-Rouser for Peace,” records the first public witness for peace of Desmond Mpilo Tutu, at that stage a university chaplain, in 1967.
Tutu went on to defy South African apartheid government ministers, sometimes in heated, face-to-face confrontations. He led peaceful demonstrations in the face of heavily-armed battalions of riot police. Yet he never stopped appealing to the humanity of his opponents. He would say of the white president who led South Africa in the most brutal period of apartheid rule: “Whether I like it or not, whether he likes it or not… P. W. Botha is my brother, and I must desire and pray for the best in him.”
Come and hear John Allen tell the story of how a barefoot child on the dusty streets of South Africa’s townships, a survivor of polio and tuberculosis, became a moral giant, an international voice for peace and justice, and now perhaps the world’s most prominent religious leader advocating for the rights of gay and lesbian people.
John Allen is a South African journalist who has reported on and worked with Desmond Tutu for 30 years. He has seen Tutu in the streets, controlling angry crowds by rousing them with his rhetoric, then directing their energies in peaceful directions. He has watched Tutu on his knees, spending hours in prayer each day. He has sat in on sensitive meetings with figures ranging from Nelson Mandela to U.S. presidents and brutal dictators.