The Nation / Desmond Tutu departed, the voice of the oppressed since ancient times

By Ricardo Rivas, Twitter journalist: @RtrivasRivas

The sunrise the day after last Christmas was splendid. The sun broke the horizon with force 27 minutes after 5 o’clock that morning. It was not easy. Some clouds, very few, defended the night so that the moon would reign alone for a longer time. I walked a bit among the yellow, red and lilac roses in the park at home. The grass was wet. Breathing in that environment in which star jasmine, white bignonias, jasmine from the Azores, salvias microphillas, Pierre de Ronsard roses, reeds from the Indies and achiras offer you their most pleasant perfumes, thrills you. My heart was racing. It almost broke the morning silence. I looked for the one that seemed the best place to sit on a deck chair under the blue cedar. I was attentive to every natural emergency. A calender was singing loudly. A benteveo, in its nest, perhaps five meters above me, seemed to respond to him in a much higher tone. That dreaming bird, as it is also called, clearly decided, with its song, to be the most remarkable. The almost rurality of the surroundings, silent or asleep, allowed us to imagine that the Christmas Eve encounters lasted until not long before the calender, the benteveo and I woke up. I stood up for a few seconds. I wanted to fill my lungs with those airs only possible in the little that remains of the flat plain near the sea to finish expelling that bilateral pneumonia that, for several days, hospitalized me when I returned from Montevideo.


The cell phone in one of the trouser pockets vibrated. Reluctantly, I took it. “Desmond Tutu left to meet the Father,” I read. My brother, partner and friend Adolfo Pérez Esquivel shook me with the sad news. I searched the sky with my eyes. Maybe I imagined that, perhaps, Desmond was there, looking at me. Some tear tried to peek out. I narrowed my eyes in distress. Adolfo and Desmond, those two winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 and 1984, in each case, loved each other deeply and fraternally. So different and so similar! “His great concern and struggle,” recalls Pérez Esquivel, “was to urge the recognition that human beings are equal” and that “they should not be discriminated against because of color, sex, social class or religious belief.” The Anglican Archbishop Desmod Tutu died, who together with another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela (1993), worked intensely towards common goals. “That we all have the same rights to a dignified and just life was his permanent fight against apartheid in South Africa and he crossed borders to bring his voice and gaze for the good of the peoples, of life and equality, because each and everyone we are sons and daughters of God ”, Adolfo added.


Trials for the truth, after apartheid ended, were the master key to reconciliation. “His thinking was fundamental in the fight for rights and equality.” I did not dare to call him. I imagined that neither of us wanted or could talk because we didn’t feel like talking. But I remembered the countless times we talked about him and both of them. On some occasion, Rigoberta Menchú Tum –Nobel de la Paz 1992– in Mar del Plata, in 2013, also contributed his own. “Dear teacher,” he liked to call him. “We are in various parts of the world sharing actions to achieve ways to resolve serious conflicts,” Pérez Esquivel recalled then and also stated in his letter-tribute. Their paths of life crossed on the borders of Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand, where they protected “the refugees who fled from the barracks where they were subjected as sex slaves by the prevailing military dictatorship” in those lands. They were not alone. Several Nobel Peace Prize winners were also there. The Dalai Lama, Tibetan, awarded by Oslo in 1989; the Irish from the North Mairead Corrigan Maguiere and Betty Williams, distinguished in 1976, and Oscar Arias, Costa Rican, awarded in 1987. “Desmond Tutu, at all times, was at the service of the refugee women,” says Adolfo, who recalls that, among the The common interests of that group of notables was that of “arriving in Rangoon to see Aung San Sun Kyi, a Burmese, Nobel Peace Prize winner (1991), imprisoned by the dictatorial regime.” I know that it still hurts her like an open wound that it was not possible to achieve that objective of solidarity not only with her, but with “those suffering people so that the world would know the serious situation that these people were experiencing.”

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner, reminded Desmond Tutu: “May his enormous legacy continue to be light, joy and hope for the world’s youth, as well as a testimony of life for our peoples who fight for a more just and peaceful world. “.


Desmond and Adolfo also worked for peace in São Paulo, Brazil. There they accompanied the Landless Movement (MST). “You know that to dance I am a petrified log,” Pérez Esquivel warned me, during an after-dinner at home. “But, after those great peasant mobilizations, when the moment of collective animation arrived, when the drums began to beat and the music took over the space without limitations, Desmond began to rhythmically move his shoulders, stood up and everyone We all started sambar and followed him through “as ruas paulistas”. That was Tutu. The man with the permanent smile. “A man of prayer to feel the mind and the heart open to humanity, to creation, to ecumenism. A tireless fighter for the right and equality of all who was a sower of life and hope for humanity. With the sacred fire always lit to military life. To be next to and on the side of those who suffer, as we once did together, in Mar del Plata, with Adolfo and Bishop Gabriel Mestre, in search of solutions for the many families who live (in a way of saying) in the enormous open-air garbage dump that Mar del Plata has had for many years. “Sometime with Desmond Tutu we toured the Soweto, in South Africa”, Adolfo commented that morning thoughtful and sorrowful. How many memories! Only a few hours later I got to know Rigoberta’s feelings, from Guatemala. “Before this sacred day Wuqub ‘E, with deep and immense sadness we bid farewell from this land to our dear and beloved teacher, guide, mentor, most illustrious Monsignor Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, exceptional universal citizen, one of the great icons of world peace”. Pray for him in line with his beliefs. He highlights his “fight against discrimination and racism”, categorizes him as a bulwark of resistance, of the defeat of apartheid, of the reunification of the South African nation ”and points to him as a“ teacher and example of negotiated and non-violent solutions , who inherited a culture of justice, tolerance and humanism ”. I went into deep reflection.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner, on his brother Desmond Tutu: “His great concern and struggle was to urge the recognition that human beings are equal, that they should not be discriminated against because of color, sex, social class or religious belief “.


Personally – from the depths of my soul – I feel that Desmond Tutu was also the voice of the story. The ancient voice of suffering. The voice of pain that, sometimes between whispers and other loudly, rhythmically, shames and illuminates because it accounts for everything that should not be and the dark perpetrators of slavery. It is the redeeming voice of those who hardened with their bones and are the foundations of what Unesco calls the “Slave Route.” The one that is located in Ouidah – before Ajudá – on the Atlantic coast of Benin, where the Portuguese, English, French and Danes, since the middle of the 1400s, built huge fortifications to trade male and female slaves. There, what is known as “the São João Baptista de Ajudá fortress”, which belonged to Portugal –the first of the countries in the world to trade slaves from Africa between 1450 and 1900– until 1961, was the management of that extractivist economic model. There lived and managed the CEOS of death that assumed blackness as a quarry from which they extracted, until they were exhausted, enslaved labor, blood, muscles, cultures, beliefs, souls. The calculations, always relative, explain 11 million people enslaved by Portugal in five centuries. From Africa, Asia and America. Slavery was maintained over time.

It became the social practice of the ruling classes. In fact, the last African slave died in Lisbon in 1930. Chained and chained, more than a million people, “kidnapped in Africa” – as UNESCO points out – traveled those 4 kilometers in Ouidá before being shipped in overcrowded conditions to the Americas. Some and some arrived alive. Others and others, although with vital signs, their lives left behind, when they were hunted and hunted. In the days before being auctioned and auctioned in the Plaza Chacha. Before, the despicable buyers forced them to walk around – nine men, 7 women – around what they called the “Tree of Oblivion” so that, according to voodoo tradition, they would forget their origins. Those bought and bought were crowded into Casa Zomai waiting for the slave ships. Those who did not survive were thrown into the Zoungbodji Memorial, the mass grave of slavery near the “Tree of Return” that, who profess voodoo, would allow the souls condemned by the heartless to return to their ancestral lands. The survivors, living dead, malnourished, scourged, humiliated, passed through the Door of No Return. I feel that it is there where the voice of Brother Desmond Tutu begins to sound with force that, no matter where the winds blow, it will remain and will be heard in the hearts of men and women who do not fear memories. To those memories. To those of ancestral and current suffering, in millions of cases, so that we can be what we have been since we went without being humiliated. Those that make it possible to “build peace in the minds of men and women”, as proposed by UNESCO since 1946. “May the enormous legacy of Desmond Tutu continue to be light, joy and hope for the world’s youth, as well as a testimony of life for our peoples that struggle to be more just and peaceful peoples, “Pérez Esquivel imploringly says goodbye, who, around noon last Tuesday, sadly told me over the phone:” I was 90, like me. ” They’re amazing guys, I thought. Rigoberta agreed with Adolfo: “May his enormous legacy continue to be light, joy and hope for the world’s youth, as well as a testimony of life for our peoples, who fight for a more just and peaceful world.” Then, with a prayerful tone, raise a prayer: “May the sacred energies of Wuqub ‘E accompany the return of Monsignor Desmond Tutu to the cosmos and may his paths be full of light.” Adolfo closed his epistolary pain with precision: “The day of your departure, 12-26-21”. Rigoberta specified: “Paxil Kayala ‘- Wukub’ E / Guatemala, December 26, 2021.” The richness of diversity makes it possible to say the same with a multiplicity of forms and formats. I looked at the sky again. A hummingbird sucked among the salvias microphyllas. I was glad. In the Museum of Anthropology of Mexico, in its capital, in 2005, I remember reading that these birds represent the resurrection of souls. I know that in that hummingbird is Desmond, who returned or, even more, who continues to walk together with the towns to be the voice of the voices of memories. Forever with you, comrade.

Pérez Esquivel, when together with the Catholic bishop Gabrie Mestre we toured an open-air garbage dump in Mar del Plata, where hundreds of people live, in 2020, he recalled when “with Desmond Tutu we toured Soweto, in South Africa.”

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The Nation / Desmond Tutu departed, the voice of the oppressed since ancient times