Desmond Mpilo Tutu: In Memoriam

Desmond Mpilo Tutu (1931–2021) / Photo Courtesy by Kristen Opalinski

The series contains tributes to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who recently passed away. The posts commemorate Tutu’s life-long efforts to promote peace, reconciliation, and human dignity and reflect on his legacy as a theologian and human rights advocate.

Posts in the Series:

Christine Venter. Archbishop Tutu and the People Left in the Dust

Greg Marcar. Being (W)holy Selfish with Desmond Tutu

Lee-Shae Salma Scharnick Udemans. Religious Privilege and Intolerance: Unveiling the Rainbow Nation


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Being (W)holy Selfish with Desmond Tutu

Greg Marcar is the Harold Turner Research Fellow at the Center for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago

In Being Disciples, Rowan Williams offers a meditative aside on his experience of Desmond Tutu and the reflections about the nature of self-love which arose from these encounters:

I have a theory, which I started elaborating after I had met Archbishop Desmond Tutu a few times, that there are two kinds of egotists in this world. There are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they have no room for anybody else, and there are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they make it possible for everybody else to be in love with themselves…They have learned to sense some of the joy that God takes in them. And in that sense Desmond Tutu manifestly loves being Desmond Tutu; there’s no doubt about that. But the effect of that is not to make me feel frozen or shrunk; it makes me feel that just possibly, by God’s infinite grace, I could one day love being Rowan Williams in the way that Desmond loves being Desmond Tutu… [1].


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Religious Privilege and Intolerance: Unveiling the Rainbow Nation

Lee-Shae Salma Scharnick Udemans is a senior researcher in the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice at the University of the Western Cape.

This article is adapted from the original chapter in the book, Ecumenical Encounters with Desmond Mpilo Tutu: Visions for Justice, Dignity, and PeaceThe book honors the life and work of Desmond Tutu and was published as part of his 90th birthday celebration

The rainbow nation moniker as a symbol of peaceful and inclusive religious co-existence, lovingly coined by Tutu, during a time of great socio-political upheaval and hope obscures the uneven ways that religious freedom as the constitutional commitment to promote and protect religions and religious diversity, is experienced by individuals and communities [1]. While the latest French legislation that further augments already ignominious restrictions on the hijab for Muslim women has left feminists and human rights activists reeling, this essay illustrates that in South African where religious freedom is protected constitutionally and promoted discursively, there is a record of Muslim women’s sartorial choices being surveilled and scrutinized. Through exploring the notion of religious privilege and by drawing on two examples of institutional and individual attempted unveiling, this essay highlights the limited utility of rainbowism and constitutional religious freedom at the rock face of intolerance and exclusion.


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