The Book Review, by Timothy Twidle
John Allen’s truly magnificent book makes for riveting reading. I was invited to the launch of the book in Cape Town but was unable to attend.
However my review copy from Random House arrived on the self same afternoon, Thursday September 28. I opened the book and began reading right there and then, became utterly engrossed and turned the last page on Sunday afternoon!
‘Rabble-Rouser for Peace’ is a consummate work of scholarship that charts the rise and rise of Desmond Tutu through the hierarchy of the Anglican Church in South Africa. So abundant were his talents that, when coupled with an intellect of complete integrity and a spontaneous, extrovert personality, Tutu’s ascent within the body politic of the church was meteoric.
Above all, he emerges as a man of humility with a flair for public relations – if he had entered the world of corporatism, this kind outgoing person would have been director of marketing at 35 years of age, chief executive officer by the age of two score years, and Chairman of the Board in his early 40s.
It has been to the great good fortune of South Africa that the unique skills of Desmond Tutu have been directed solely towards the promotion and marketing of South Africa Inc., instead of to a multinational giant of the corporate world.
In his book, John Allen describes how Tutu deployed a diplomatic tour de force on the international stage, to bring about peaceful change in SA. Subsequent to being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984 and thereafter enthroned as Archbishop of Cape Town (1986), Tutu was able to network with world leaders, sporting a mix of panache and effervescent good humour.
In 1995 he was appointed by then President Nelson Mandela to lead the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – the final report of its findings was handed over in October 1998. It is the considered opinion of many people, both nationally and internationally, that only a man of Tutu’s moral stature could have made the TRC work in the manner that it did, as a catharsis of forgiveness and hope for the future. Today the commission’s work is recognised globally and used as a model of conflict resolution in many countries.
‘Rabble-Rouser for Peace’ is my book of the year and is required reading for anybody who works, dwells or is in any way involved in South Africa.