Desmond Tutu Speaks at the Fine Arts Center, 1993

Desmond Tutu at a podium speaking

--Via INDEX, 1993

"Good afternoon!" a voice thundered above the roar of the crowd. A pause. Archbishop Desmond Tutu tried again: "Well, that wasn't much of a welcome...GOOD AFTERNOON!!!" The audience at the Fine Arts Center responded with cheers. Tutu's first stop on a 10-day national tour that was sold out well in advance of his appearance, thanks to the Distinguished Visitors Program. 

The demand for additional seating was met with an overflow room, the Rand Theater, that had an audio hookup to the FAC. To many, the compromise seemed worthwhile. One audience member said, "I can't believe we're almost in the same room as he is!" 

Tutu's reputation as a leader in the Black political struggle in South Africa preceded him to the university. The theme of his speech was the theme of his life. 

"God did not make a mistake in creating you. Don't go around apologizing for it. Appreciate who you are ," said Tutu. "Don't get caught up in who is more clever, who is smarter, who is short, or foolish. We are all of equal worth," he added. 

A supporter of the Anglican religion, Tutu said he believes that God bestows gifts upon individuals in the form of potential, saying, "It has enabled me to work to my unique self." 

Tutu has had his work cut out for him from day one. His decades of political struggle originated in a 1957 protest brought about by the government implementation of a two-class system for Blacks and whites. 

After studying theology and being ordained to the Anglican priesthood in 1961, Tutu concentrated his efforts on a large-scale program to assist the less fortunateprimarily, the Black residents of South Africa. His opposition to the Group Statutes Act, a government ordinance to move Blacks from urban areas to the outlying countryside, and his endorsement of the withdrawal of foreign investments from South Africa, makes him a controversial figure. 

Two years after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, Tutu became the first Black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Church of the Province of South Africa. 

"The color of a person's skin is a total irrelevance," he said, "but that is precisely what racism does. It makes one forget so easily." He explained how this way of thinking isolates people to the extent that they are no longer thinking rationally. "We actually have to learn how to become human." 

"We belong together. We celebrate our diversity. In your heart of hearts, you know you care for laughter and joy and caring and compassion. We are a human family," he concluded.