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Desmond Tutu visits Copenhagen

Pictures from the lecture at the University of Copenhagen, September 10, 2004.

Former South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, gave a lecture at the University of Copenhagen on September 10th and the following Sunday he was leading an overfilled church service in the Copenhagen Dome. The University’s Centre of African Studies and the development organisation DanChurchAid invited him to Denmark, to mark the 10-years anniversary of the democratic South Africa. More than 600 were gathered to listen to the warm and charismatic Tutu and several hundreds went in vain. Though both retired, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela are still the most widely respected and acknowledged representatives of South Africa.

Photo of Desmond Tutu Tutu was born in 1931 and was a key figure in the peaceful struggle against the South African apartheid regime. He encouraged and inspired in South Africa, and was at the same time peace activist and unofficial ambassador for freedom when meeting the world. He was educated as teacher and later priest. In 1978 he became the first black Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches .

For his efforts to make a peaceful transition into freedom for the South African people, he won the Nobel Peace Price in 1984. He has later been heading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has become a model for conflict solution in other African countries and in the rest of the world.

Desmond Tutu is a truly remarkable man, as he is preaching for peace all over the world. He talks about dialogue and peace –also when the subject is terror. “We should talk and negotiate. We will discover that we have much in common with our enemies,” he said. “In Israel and Palestine I think that one day they will ask themselves: Why were we so stupid for so long?” In his speech Desmond Tutu also quoted the legendary Mahatma Gandhi: "An eye for an eye will only leave the world blind" And he adds “We have to deal with the causes to win the war against terror. We have to do something about poverty, diseases and ignorance. It can’t be true that these people are just stupid and mean killers.”

Desmond Tutu - photoDesmond Tutu waits for a moment and then shouts out “Ubuntu!” He repeats the word a few times and says, “Ubuntu is word we have in South Africa. It means…. Ubuntu! There is no English word for it.” Happily he doesn’t give up, but explains the meaning: You are only a human through other humans …through your relations to other humans. The term is about caring for each other and being in harmony and Desmond Tutu has often used it when describing his visions and theology. Tutu doesn't make a difference between Christians, Jews or Muslims and he doesn’t condemn homosexuals as many other leaders and preachers on the African continent. “We are all one human race. We are all God’s children”.

“We are all religious,” he also explained. “It is all about believing and having confidence in each other. Even those who call themselves atheists do believe in something. For example: you don’t ask to see the captain’s certificate before entering an airplane. You BELIEVE he can fly. You have to believe, because you have no guarantee of anything. That is why we are all deeply religious even though some of you won’t admit it.” But during Apartheid it was sometimes difficult to keep the faith.

The retired Anglican Archbishop talks with enthusiasm and humour. At times it was almost like attending a stand-up show. Desmond Tutu told a story about a man who fell down from a mountain only clinging to the cliff with his fingertips. Tutu held up his hands to illustrate the desperate situation. “Help, heeelp! Is there anybody up there who can help me?” he cried, and in a deeper voice Tutu told us the answer. “Yes. Do you believe in me? Then let go of the cliff.” The voice explained that he would be saved before he hits the ground …if he believes. The man thinks for a moment and then cries: “Heeelp, is there anybody else up there!” There were times in South Africa when people wished that there was someone else up there who could help. The South Africans did ask for help, and Desmond Tutu used the opportunity to thank the Danes for their support in fighting against Apartheid. “We asked for help and we got it from you. I wish you could see into our hearts how happy we are today. You have always been free, so you don’t know how it feels for us.”

The crowd cheered and applauded, but was very silent when Desmond Tutu spoke of the many problems the South Africans are still facing. The main message of the day was love and reconciliation...and as the little man with the big smile said: "it works!"

Desmond Tutu with Holger Bernt Hansen

Desmond Tutu with professor, dr.phil. Holger Bernt Hansen from
the Centre for African Studies, University of Copenhagen.

Photo of Desmond Tutu with Stephen Pandula Gawe, the South African ambassador

Desmond Tutu with Stephen Pandula Gawe, the South African ambassador
in Denmark,

On this image: Desmond Tutu and rector Linda Nielsen

Desmond Tutu meeting the rector of Copenhagen University, Linda Nielsen.

Signing books at the University of Copenhagen God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time
God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time

Photo: Signing books

Desmond Tutu has recently released the book: God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time. Buy the book from Amazon.co.uk

Photos: Desmond Tutu
Photo: Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu

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Some of these photos has been published in the following magazines

  • Africa Positive, 14. 2004
  • Coloured Pictures, Oct. 2004
  • The African Courier, Oct/Nov 2004

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