Biography says Tutu regrets de Klerk’s Nobel Prize
Friday, September 22, 2006 | 12:25 PM ET

The first authorized biography of Archbishop Desmond Tutu reveals the well-respected South African religious leader regrets nominating F.W. de Klerk along with Nelson Mandela for the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

Tutu is deeply critical of de Klerk, the last apartheid president of South Africa, for not accepting accountability for atrocities under his rule.

The book, Rabble-Rouser for Peace, written by John Allen, Tutu’s former press secretary, is scheduled for release Oct. 7.

Excerpts have been published in advance in South African newspapers.

The biography features an interview with de Klerk in which he admits failing to act to prevent human rights abuses.

Security forces were often brutal in their efforts to suppress people working against apartheid.

“Where maybe I failed was not asking more questions, not going on a crusade about things, following up on a slight uncomfortableness you feel here and there,” de Klerk told Allen.

Tutu developed an antipathy of de Klerk after serving as chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which began sitting in 1995 and released a final report in 1998.

Many victims of torture and brutality told their stories to the commission and Tutu often wept along with them during their testimony.

The commission offered amnesty to perpetrators of apartheid crimes if they told the truth about their activities.

The exhaustive investigation exposed the depth of complicity by political leaders and left Tutu disappointed with de Klerk, Allen wrote. Tutu regretted nominating him, together with Mandela, for the Nobel laureate.

The biography also reveals that Tutu was once considered to become Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the worldwide Anglican church.

Although Tutu might have welcomed the appointment, he wasn’t eligible because he was not in a position to swear allegiance to the Queen, as is required by the Church of England.

If he had taken the role, the church might have approached the issue of homosexuality differently.

In Rabble-Rouser for Peace, Tutu says he is ashamed of the Anglican church for its stand against gay priests.

This is a marked difference from other African bishops who pressured Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams not to allow the ordination of homosexuals, leading to a conflict with more liberal church members in the West.

Tutu wrote a 1998 letter to Williams’s predecessor, Archbishop George Carey, saying he was “ashamed to be Anglican” after the church took a stand against practising homosexuals in the priesthood.

Tutu also said he was deeply saddened at the furor caused by the appointment of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.

“He found it little short of outrageous that church leaders should be obsessed with issues of sexuality in the face of the challenges of AIDS and global poverty,” wrote Allen.