Tutu's angry prayers turn to forgiveness, but still a warning to the ANC
THE sovereignty and national interests of any country are never fully tested until warring interests battling for its soul impose choices that unscrupulously fall in line with the self-interested positions of colonial motive.
Nothing so rudely awakened the country to the test as what appeared to be an innocent invitation by Bishop Desmond Tutu to the Dalai Lama to speak at the inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the University of Western Cape last Saturday.
Not knowing the exact reasons for the dilemma in South Africa with regard to issuing a visa for Tutu's fellow laureate, it remains unclear whether peace was a winner or loser in the Dalai Lama resorting to withdraw his application. Peace Foundation chairman Dumisa Ntsebeza said the visa application was lodged as early as June.
For Tutu's friend the wait had become painfully too long to hope for anything in the affirmative.
The continued lack of an answer, in the form of "yes" or "no", was just as nerve-racking. Standing on either side of Tutu's expectations, good and bad wishers were spoiling for a fight.
Reputedly a man of peace, the Dalai Lama succumbed, rather than allow the tortuous inconvenience to continue to mar either the government or Tutu's party.
When reality hit home, Tutu had no ounce of diplomacy left to vent his dismay. His anger had no ring of polite words to sum up his distress. The last to escape Tutu's lips was a threat of a prayer that would see the ANC rendered an obsolete factor in the corridors of power of this beloved land.
With the jolly good fellow at the podium, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe humbled the birthday boy with the honour of his presidential presence. Tutu was moved. He left the podium contorting with uncontrollable laughter to shake Motlanthe's hands. The pleasantries and good wishes were exchanged in full view of those in attendance.
If this was an act of forgiveness and repentance, on the part of Tutu and Motlanthe, the ANC should pardon the irritating media for capturing the confusing moment as that would have gone unnoticed to the general public. It is in moments like these that those who think an independent media is a nuisance to the ANC's rule should think again.
Whether Motlanthe's appearance was a stroke of diplomacy or a mark of a redemption-seeking crusader, seized with insulating the ANC from Tutu's angry prayers, is a curious riddle for those interested in international-cum-celestial matters.
Festivities continued the next day with the Dalai Lama afforded the benefit of a video link to mark Tutu's birthday. What started badly reportedly ended well.
The ANC is still in power. Anything that the ANC does to stay in or out of power may have nothing to do with Tutu's prayers. But his warning for the ANC "to watch out" should not be dismissed as the vain rantings of an ageing bishop. Nevertheless, the ANC must remain warned that its rule is inextricably prescribed by the endurance of those who have put it in power.
That power expects of the ANC to rule by serving in the best interests of what makes South Africa a moral frame of reference for all struggling people of the world, who still thirst and hunger for justice.
The cry for justice anywhere should not find SA unable to flex her moral muscles. The country should not turn a deaf ear and blind eye to altruistic endeavours.
But if self-interested expediency is what makes world politics go round, morally bankrupt national interests continuously prove to be a pathetic stranger to justice and peace.
- Column written by Oupa Ngwenya