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Archive for Tuesday, September 25, 1990

ARCHBISHOP TUTU

September 25, 1990

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— To withhold freedom from a people is to fight, and lose, against nature, said South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"You can try to hold us down as long as you like, but humans were made for freedom just as plants are made for light and for sunshine," Tutu said Monday in Kansas City. "Freedom is something that lives in the spirit of humans. You can repress them, you can jail them, you can kill them. But something lives inside of us. Humans know that we are made for something different. We were made by God for freedom."

Tutu spoke after receiving an honorary doctorate during a ceremony at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The University of Missouri system operates an exchange with the University of the Western Cape in South Africa,, over which Tutu presides as the honorary chancellor.

TUTU, A long-standing foe of the South African system of apartheid, which segregates blacks and people of other races from whites, won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize and is the first black to lead the Anglican church in South Africa.

During his speech, Tutu spoke with awe of events in South Africa since February, when President F.W. de Klerk released activist Nelson Mandela from prison and unleashed a drive to turn the country toward majority rule.

"I believe we must also note the courage of Mr. de Klerk," Tutu said. "He has been an important player, taking the kind of initiatives he has done toward equality, to say nothing of his tremendous rapport with Nelson Mandela. . . . I think these steps had a great deal to do with the meetings he had with Nelson. He discovered this man's humaneness."

DRESSED IN a black robe that revealed the cuffs and the collar of his priestly purple shirt, Tutu regaled the audience of more than 2,000 people in a voice that rose in pitch with each emotional point. For example, he thanked anti-apartheid activists in the United States for supporting sanctions against the white-led government, sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress over a veto by then-President Reagan.

He noted, with heavy irony, that the world moved with lightning speed to invoke sanctions against Iraq and yet took years of debate to invoke sanctions against South Africa.

"They ask me, `Do you think sanctions work?','' he said. "Ha! South Africa didn't stop fighting in Angola because of a sudden change of heart, because they suddenly were in love with the Angolans or the Namibians. Because of the sanctions, they were no longer able to fight. . . .

"They say sanctions are not effective. When sanctions are mentioned, suddenly their altruism shines through. Everybody was upset and sorry for black people because sanctions would hurt the ones they wanted to help most of all. Baloney! Baloney!"

TUTU ALSO said he was surprised by the support the anti-apartheid movement received from college students in the United States.

"When I came to this country to visit college campuses in the '80s, I saw students who ought to be concerned about good grades or exams, carrying out demonstrations because they were concerned about South Africa and wanted to see the system change. One's faith in human nature was rekindled, that they saw things more important than college grades."

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