We are a sick nation, says Tutu

2009-12-04 13:36

SOUTH Africa is a traumatised nation with deep scars in its psyche

which are not being acknowledged, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said on


“It is hard to help someone who doesn’t realise they are sick. We

are sick, some more than others. What makes a grown-up man rape a baby?”

Tutu was responding to questions about the state of South Africa

following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings, during a

roundtable discussion at the Beyond Reconciliation Conference at the University

of Cape Town.

The three-day conference aims to examine ways to deal with the

aftermath of mass trauma and political violence.

Tutu, who now chairs The Elders, the independent group of global

leaders that addresses issues of humanity and human suffering, lamented the

violent behaviour of South Africans who, he says, have not healed in the years

since the TRC.

He condemned the “totally gratuitous violence” taking place in

society and called for the adoption of the Ubuntu philosophy.

“Ubuntu says that my humanity, whether I like it or not, is bound

up in your humanity. If I strip you of your dignity, I am inexorably taking away

my own. So treating you with dignity is in my own interest of


He said he would have liked to be spending these years of his life

resting and reflecting on good work well done, but there was still a long way to


He said he was “an old man who was hoping, at this point in

history, to be sitting on the sidelines with Madiba saying, ‘look how they are

getting along’.

But the sensitivity we thought we had is not showing. How do you

explain, in the face of such poverty, people going to buy a car that costs R1

million or staying in five-star hotels, claiming they didn’t know what the cost


But he was adamant that it had not been overly ambitious to strive

for reconciliation. Prof Deborah Posel, chair of sociology at Wits, asked

whether society could scale down expectations of absolute reconciliation to a

level of mutual civility, to which the Archbishop replied, “No”.

The conference was initiated as a result of discussions surrounding

the recurrent xenophobic attacks across the country, and is hearing from

representatives from countries across the world who are confronting processes of

reconciliation after a period of mass trauma.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.