Fare Thee Well, Archbishop TuTu

Desmond Tutu- Wikipedia
Desmond Tutu- Wikipedia

Fare Thee Well, Archbishop TuTu BY NICHOLAS OKAIJAH-THOMPSON A mighty tree has fallen! Archbishop Tutu is no more, Africa and the world mourn. South Africa's anti-apartheid leader, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has transitioned to eternity and joins colleagues like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. The worldwide outpouring of tributes to Archbishop Tutu must cause us to embrace his preaching Christ's salvation and ensure that social justice prevails simultaneously. Rightly, South Africa's president, Cyril Ramaphosa, called him a "leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the Biblical insight that faith without works is dead." It is time for the West to look to Africa for the spiritual sustenance and the moral compass which Archbishop Tutu embodied. Significantly, Africa currently produces more Christians than any continent, while Christianity is declining in the West. After the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, I began to admire the clergy's courageous stand against the brutal white-minority apartheid system. Although an African like the archbishop, our paths never crossed on the motherland. We came into contact when he visited Chicago in January 1986 at the invitation of Mayor Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor. Our meeting was brief, but I cherish it the most; it was seeing one of the greatest of the Africans. Our encounter came after Archbishop Tutu had given a lecture at the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. I had arrived late and would not be allowed into the packed chapel. I settled outside with scores of others to catch a glimpse of this great and brave man. I positioned myself at a spot where I could fully view him. As he emerged out of the chapel accompanied by Mayor Washington, Archbishop Tutu, with his characteristic smiles, returned the greetings of his numerous admirers. Amid tight security, as as he passed by about 100 feet away, I burst out, "Victory for South Africa's black people." I believed he heard my African accent. He paused and turned his eyes in my direction, raising his right hand in acknowledgment. Having caught his attention, I spoke out loudly, "I'm an African brother from Ghana." To this, the charismatic leader responded, "Ghana! ok, brother." I was so thrilled that I had expressed my solidarity to the anti-apartheid leader; at the time, I was the vice-president of a city college's student group against apartheid. Later as a Chicago Defender reporter, I missed a telephone interview with him while he was in New York due to a conflicting schedule. During a study tour of South Africa with students of Chicago State University later, I observed the peaceful outcome of his work in reconciling the country's black and white people after the collapse of apartheid. I still cherish the moment I met the man who won the Nobel Peace prize, and I am devastated by his death. As a fellow ordained minister, death has robbed me of a mentor. But the Scriptures teach that to be "absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." I believe Archbishop Tutu would echo the words of the Apostle Paul, when he said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." He has left the world a rich legacy as a champion against oppression and injustice worth emulating. When comes another! Fare thee well, Archbishop Tutu!

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