Desmond Tutu: Working for Justice


Desmond Tutu
Joshua Wanyama, via Flickr

How do you work for peace? Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at the life of international peace leader Desmond Tutu.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A small child is very sick. He has the disease polio. It is the 1930s in South Africa. There are no drugs to prevent or treat this disease. It kills many people. His parents are very worried. They believe he will die. So they prepare for a funeral. But the boy does not die. And he becomes a very important man in the history of South Africa. Today’s Spotlight is on this man. His name is Desmond Tutu.

Voice 2

Tutu was born on October 7, 1931. He was born in Makoeteng, South Africa. Tutu had a very happy childhood. He liked to catch fish, to play soccer and to read books. His parents were very important in his life. His mother was kind and gentle. His father was wise and funny.

Voice 1 

The Christian church was also very special to Tutu. He started serving in the church when he was seven. The priest was Zechariah Sekgapane. He loved and cared for everyone. Sekgapane was not the only positive person in Tutu’s young life. He also had great teachers at school. These leaders had dark skin, like Tutu. But one day the young Tutu had a surprising experience. He remembered what happened all his life. He was out with his mother and he saw a white man he did not know.

Voice 3 

‘This white man walked past. He was wearing a big black hat and white flowing clothes. He raised his hat to my mother. Now that seemed a perfectly normal thing for him. But for me it was truly amazing that a white man could raise his hat to my mother. She was a black woman. In South Africa’s terms she was nothing.’

Voice 2 

Later Tutu identified this man as Trevor Huddleston. Huddleston was a Christian priest. When Tutu was in high school he got to know Huddleston well. Huddleston showed Tutu that white and black people could be friends. Race did not have to divide people.

Voice 1 

Tutu was a very good student. He wanted to be a doctor. But he could not pay for medical school. So instead he became a teacher. After teaching for a few years, Tutu decided to work for the Christian church. He completed his church studies in 1960. He became a priest. This was a time of joy in Tutu’s life. But it was not a time of joy for South Africa. The country was full of anger.

Voice 2

Apartheid law began in South Africa in 1948. These were laws that separated people based on the color of their skin. The laws gave much better treatment to white people. This made life very hard for black people in South Africa. After many years of these laws, many black people were angry. They were ready for change. Some were ready to fight.

Voice 1 

Tutu did not want fighting. He wanted peace, and he wanted justice. So Tutu joined the peaceful fight against apartheid. He did not join because of politics. He joined because he thought it was the duty of Christians. Tutu has written many things about this decision. In an essay called “Why We Must Oppose Apartheid”, he wrote,

Voice 3 

“I am against the evil policy of apartheid because of my Christian faith. It is not about politics. It is about understanding the words of Jesus Christ.”

Voice 2 

In a different essay, Tutu explains more:

Voice 3 

“The Church of God has to be the salt and light of the world. We are the hope of the hopeless. We must change hate, suspicion, fear, and bitterness. We must be the opposite. We need to show people that they matter. We need to show them that God loves them.”

Voice 1 

Tutu was a very good speaker. Many people heard his words. They listened to the truth in the words. But people loved him for another reason. They also loved his laugh and his smile. He could laugh in any difficult situation. He used this gift to connect to many different people. Then, he encouraged people to solve their problems together.

Voice 2 

His gift of speaking and solving problems led him to many important positions. In 1975 Tutu was the first black person to be the dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg. The next year he became the Bishop of Lesotho. And in 1978 he became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. This important organisation worked for justice and fair treatment for everyone. It worked to end apartheid. As its leader, Tutu became well known all over the world.

Voice 1

In 1984, Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize. At the ceremony, he gave a speech. He said that people need to remember that every person has value. Every person should enjoy basic human rights. This is because God created each person. He ended his speech with a call to action.  He told people that they should work for peace and justice. He said,

Voice 3 

“Let us work to be peacemakers. Let us share in God’s work of healing and bringing people together. If we want peace, let us work for fairness and justice.”

Voice 2 

Desmond Tutu followed his own words with action. He continued to work for peace and justice. In 1988, he was elected as Archbishop of Cape Town. This made him the head of the Anglican Church in South Africa. He was the first black person to hold this position. As a church leader, he continued to work against apartheid.

Voice 1 

In 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected as South Africa’s president. He was the first black South African president. Things began to change in the country. Mandela ended apartheid law.

Voice 2 

Mandela also started a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This was a group of people who acted like a public court. Their goal was to deal with the many terrible things that happened during apartheid. People came to the commission to tell their stories. Desmond Tutu was in charge of the court. He heard many sad and terrible stories. But the purpose was not to cry or become angry. The purpose was to find ways for everyone to live together in peace.

Voice 1 

Desmond Tutu retired as Archbishop in 1996. But he still cared about peace. He formed his own peace organization. Tutu is now over 80 years old. But on his website he encourages all people to continue his work:

Voice 3 

‘Do your little bit of good where you are. It is these little bits of good put together that change the world.’

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Lauren Anders. The producer was Nick Mangeolles. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the Internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Desmond Tutu: Working for Justice’. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Question:

Have you heard of Desmond Tutu? Do you admire or respect any leaders in your country? Who are they?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on June 13, 2013

Removing apartheid is not really easy.Mr Later’s dedication is great for peace purpose.
We have to always remember him and fight   for a happy peacefull life .

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on June 13, 2013

True way leads us to true happiness. True way leads everyone to true happiness. Each of us was born and grows up. We make the world beautiful. We are responsible to the life and the world. Our world goes to perfection. Each of us goes to perfection.

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on June 13, 2013

‘Do your little bit of good where you are. It is these little bits of good put together that change the world.’
Desmond Tutu

Avatar Spotlight
QuangTrang
said on August 25, 2014

Thanks Tutu, he was a light and salt of the world as Jesus said to his disciples. Every good works he did because of peace and justice not cause of politics. He worked against Apartheid in peace without fighting. If fighting for ended Apartheid law that mean without peace. I like him because through him many people got happiness. I think many works from Tutu before, Mandela was successful ended Apartheid law.
Before read this story, I thought everything is God’s will, I did nothing for unfair, evil, unlaw. I hope I will more understand the Jesus Christ’s words.

Avatar Spotlight
Mss Flamboyant
said on August 28, 2014

I admire him so much. He is a person of peace and justice.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on August 29, 2016

Yes, I had head about Desmond Tutu from many years ago but not much informations (So thanks to Spotlight for this good program).
Actually I respect him and all peacemakers in around the world, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God” Matthew 5:9.
God bless you

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on September 20, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questos above
Date: Tuesday 20, September 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Lauren Anders, Colin Lowther, and Nick Mangeolles:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!

Yes, I have. Congratulations, Demond Tutu! If Demond Tutu were alive, he would have won the noble prize of the África people because he was a noble man.
Yes, I do. There are many brazilian citizens who deserve my admiration and respect. Eduardo Henrique Accioly Campos is one of them. He was a noble man, too. He deserves my admiration and respect.  He died in a terrible accident on Ausgust 13, 2014. However, he deserved all our respect and admiration.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil