Archbishop Desmond Tutu should know his place

A lot of noise has been made about South Africa’s ‘failure’ to grant exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a visa to the country to attend his friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday party. On social media it has become the rage with some saying things that slacktivists would say.

Throughout the whole thing I found it disturbing that very few of the people who were calling for a visa to be granted, knew that much about the man in question and why his visa application was a complex issue.

Now I am not going to preempt why the government of South Africa were reluctant to hand the Dalai Lama a visa which resulted in the latter canceling his trip to the country. However I found the Archbishop’s comments not only disappointing but inappropriate and unpalatable.

To compare the ANC’s action in this instance to the passport application denial during the 1980s of UDF leader Dullah Omar is a bit short-sighted and selfish. It is just like a child throwing toys out of their pram because they don’t like the fact that their parents have refused to allow a friend over for a party. It’s just tantrums. But no matter how angry you get, you don’t say this:

Our government is worse than the apartheid government because at least you would expect it with the apartheid government

You may want to sugar-coat it later and say you meant something else, or that you misspoke but this is an insult to the blacks and progressive whites in that country who will tell you that there have been a lot of gains made by the government that far outweigh the Archbishop’s inconvenience. Making those comments is simply irresponsible.

The Archbishop will do well to remember that there are a lot of issues at play and decisions made in this modern world are no longer as isolated as before. Supposing the issue was to do with Chinese investment, could the country risk messing up a relationship with one of its major trade partners to cater to the whims of one man?

The Archbishop was part of the struggle but he was not the struggle. Many members of the current and past governments as well as those from the days of the struggle suffered personal inconveniences but they do not run with them to the press and nationalise their discomforts as if they of a significant enough public interest.

The Archbishop should know his place. We don’t always get our way, and we move on with it. That’s life. If that should apply to everyone else, why should it be different for him?