S.Africa's Tutu to talk of future and give thanks

October 14, 1992|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Staff Writer

With the end of apartheid in sight, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu embarked on a U.S. speaking tour to thank Americans for supporting the cause of democracy in South Africa.

The Nobel laureate is scheduled to speak at Johns Hopkins University today at a free lecture in which he will discuss the outlook for democracy in his homeland.

"First of all, I am coming here to thank people for their support of our struggle," Archbishop Tutu said over the phone from Washington.

"We are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and the people are a part of that victory."

The 61-year-old archbishop will speak at 5 p.m. -- as part of the annual George Huntington Williams Memorial lecture -- at the university's Shriver Hall. The auditorium holds 1,118 people, and seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, according to a university spokeswoman.

Although change is coming to the country where apartheid -- legalized segregation -- allowed 5 million whites to dominate 30 million blacks, it is not coming easily. In the past year alone, violence in South African townships has claimed about 2,500 lives.

"The violence is very, very disturbing," Archbishop Tutu said.

Citing another reason for his speaking tour, Archbishop Tutu explained, "I am also here to try to make people understand the nature of the violence. It is often described as black on black or ethnic or tribal. The violence is not that, nor is it due to race.

It is largely political and due to deprivation, poverty and squalor."

The South African government is not doing enough to "effectively end the violence," he said.

That remark was disputed by an official at the South African Embassy in Washington. "That is the archbishop's opinion," said Wesley Johanneson, the embassy official. "It is debatable whether or not the government is doing enough. The government is doing what it can do."

The archbishop, the first black person to head the Anglican church in South Africa, said the country would move toward democracy regardless of obstacles.

"We will not tolerate any regression to apartheid," he said. "Nor will we tolerate violence. We want to see South Africa emerge as a true democratic nation."

He added that this is a time to celebrate the democratic reforms occurring in many parts of the world. "The outbreak of freedom that is coming to so many places is extraordinary," he said.

And it is a time to embrace the goodness in people, he added.

"We have enough evidence of suffering in this world but there are many beautiful things that we need to celebrate," he said. "We live in a moral universe. People are good."

Tutu to speak

When: 5 p.m. today.

Where: Johns Hopkins University, Shriver Hall, 3400 N. Charles St.

Free. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Call (410) 516-7157

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