Simultaneously spiritual, humorous and powerfully optimistic during an address at the Johns Hopkins University yesterday, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that blacks in his country will be liberated soon.
"South Africa will be free," Archbishop Tutu told more than 1,100 people assembled in Shriver Hall and others watching on monitors at Hopkins' Homewood campus.
And when freedom comes, he said, supporters of apartheid in South Africa will say "why were we so stupid for so long."
Despite slow political movement and bloody rivalries that have claimed more than 2,500 lives in his country this year alone, Archbishop Tutu said South Africa has embarked on an "irreversible" march toward democracy and freedom for all.
"Injustice and repression and lies can't have the last word," he said.
Archbishop Tutu was in Baltimore as part of a U.S. speaking tour to thank Americans for supporting freedom in South Africa.
The Anglican archbishop said freedom is inevitable for South Africa because of the progress already made and the affirmation all people enjoy by being children of God. "We are all planned in the image of God," he said. "Some of us might look like accidents, but none of us are accidents."
When freedom finally does arrive in South Africa, Archbishop Tutu said, the country will have the potential to be a "paradigm of the world."
The archbishop, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, said his optimism for a "new South Africa" is possible because of the remarkable changes that already are transforming his country.
Just several years ago, he said, the changes that have already occurred were unthinkable.
Among the changes: abolishment of laws that enforced South Africa's rigid system of racial segregation and allowed 5 million whites to dominate the nation's 30 million blacks; the freeing of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela; the unbanning of political groups, which allows organizations like the African National Congress to operate legally.
Describing his reaction to those changes, Archbishop Tutu said, "Clearly this is a wonderful dream. Yes, I am dreaming."
The archbishop said that none of those changes would have been possible were it not for the support of the anti-apartheid movement in the United States that successfully pushed for economic sanctions against South Africa.
"It was an incredible demonstration," he said. "[Anti-apartheid activists] were actually able to change the moral climate in this country [the U.S.]."
The archbishop, who is the first black person to head the Anglican Church in South Africa, said also that change in his country would not have occurred were it not for the breakup of the Communist bloc and "the outbreak of freedom" around the globe.