South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu had audience members clapping, cheering and chuckling from the moment he teased them about their weak response to his “good evening” greeting.
The 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke at a packed Texas Hall in March on “God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time.” As general secretary of the South African Council of Churches from 1978-86, Tutu rose to international prominence for his stand against apartheid, a racist system that ruled his country until 1994.
The 2,700 in attendance interrupted the 35-minute speech 16 times with applause and numerous other times with laughter at his anecdotes and messages of justice and reconciliation. At one point, he waved an imaginary wand over the crowd, turning the people into grateful South Africans so they could help him thank America for ridding South Africa of apartheid.
“The demise of apartheid, ladies and gentlemen, is a spectacular demonstration that this is a moral universe, that right and wrong in fact matter,” he said, “that injustice and oppression and lies and evil won’t ever prevail in the world.”
After the talk, which was sponsored by UTA’s Africa Program, state Sen. Royce West (’74 BA, ’79 MA) presented Tutu with a Texas flag that had flown over the Capitol in Austin. The archbishop then shook hands with dozens of audience members and posed for photographs.
Elements of his speech drew spirited reaction.
On the triumph of justice
On the end of apartheid
On Nelson Mandela
On God’s love