book_review_of_no_future.pdf - No Future Without Forgiveness Desmond Mpilo Tutu New York Doubleday 1999 294 pp By Wayne Northey Many Canadian(and indeed

book_review_of_no_future.pdf - No Future Without...

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1 No Future Without Forgiveness , Desmond Mpilo Tutu, New York: Doubleday, 1999, 294 pp. By Wayne Northey Many Canadian (and indeed international) readers of this book well remember the frequent radio interviews of Anglican Archbishop Tutu on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC’s) As It Happens . The same urbane, gentle, caring voice emerges in the pages of this book. (Archbishop Tutu, now retired, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, and lectures throughout the world.) In the first democratic elections in South Africa where Blacks were allowed to vote (Tutu was 62 years old when he first voted, April 27, 1994), Nelson Mandela, the 76-year-old ex- prisoner and head of the African National Congress party, was swept to power. It is a true wonder that an ex-con who had spent 27 years in prison should become President, and subsequently the most revered statesman in the world. Bishop Tutu was anticipating an early retirement, at least from the activism against apartheid that had characterized his work for 20 years. It was not to be. In December 1995, he was assigned by his church to the newly formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and then by President Mandela appointed chairperson. He remained so for nearly three years, when the Commission handed in its final report. This publication is his reflection on that experience. “Reflection” is the appropriate word. More than an account of the events, people, and decisions of the Commission, the book is a personal memoir that will be an enduring classic. There are eleven chapters and a postscript. The prose is unadorned, the style elegant, and the sentiment throughout compassionate. Apartheid was a national policy that permeated South African life, from 1948 when the Nationalist Party first enacted it, until the first democratic elections in 1994. After that date, no one was found ever to have supported it of course, wryly pointed out by Tutu. (Anthropologist René Girard underscores this universal self-deception in response to scapegoating. He cites Jesus’s words about the Pharisees: “And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the [innocents].’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the [innocents] (Mathew 23:30-31).”) Apartheid polity effectively turned every aspect of South African society to the advantage of the minority white population. All major social institutions from education to law were directly impacted. Perhaps the major cause célèbre in the Western world, that it was at last dismantled without a violent coup was amazing in its own right. That a black President, and former criminal should arise from its demise is a true wonder. As a tract for restorative justice, it is unique due to the imaginative experiment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The title of Chapter Two is: “Nuremberg or National Amnesia? A Third Way”. “Victor’s justice” as imposed by the Allies at the end of World