By John Martin
In the 1980s and 1990s when apartheid reigned and most of South Africa’s top-ranking black leaders were either imprisoned or exiled, one voice could not be silenced. The fearless Desmond Tutu was the scourge of the apartheid regime and became a symbol of the fight against a racist regime.
Now his daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tutu, has become one of the voices of her generation. On Dec. 16 she addressed thousands of protesters in Cape Town’s Company Gardens, the latest initiative of the Zuma Must Fall movement that is protesting against government incompetence and corruption and calling for President Jacob Zuma to resign.
She told her audience that apartheid crumbled after people prayed. “We pray now and put our shoulders to the wheel to end the corruption that is now our country.” Protesters made a point of using their country’s national Reconciliation Day to stage Zuma Must Fall rallies in several cities.
“He’s obviously distressed,” she said of her father. “I think he is incredibly saddened by the events of the past few weeks, and by the callous disregard for public work that is demonstrated by the current administration.”
President Zuma countered by calling for people not to exaggerate South Africa’s problems. “We exaggerate our problems and make people think that South Africans are funny people, whilst in reality people envy to be South Africans,” he said during an address celebrating Reconciliation Day at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
The protest movement has come together since Zuma sacked the country’s finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene. Zuma replaced him with African National Congress politician David Douglas Des Van Rooyen, whom critics say has no experience in finance or in government. The move sent South Africa’s financial markets tumbling.
Mpho Tutu was one of several speakers who addressed the anti-Zuma protesters. She is founder and executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage, a powerful speaker in her own right, and coauthor with her father of Made for Goodness (HarperOne, 2011).
She has run ministries for children in Worcester, Massachusetts, and for rape survivors in Grahamstown, South Africa. She earned an MDiv at Episcopal Divinity School and her first ministry post was at the historic Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia.
Image: The Rev. Mpho Andrea Tutu and her father, Archbishop Desmond Tutu