Memories of Archbishop Desmond Tutu
1/13/2022, 6 p.m.
As we experience the news of the homegoing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, we celebrate the life, love and legacy of a great theologian.
It was in 1993 that my uncle, Dr. David T. Shannon Sr., invited me to travel with him to the home of Archbishop Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa. The 14-hour flight carried us to the home of a very humble gentle giant who extended the invitation to my uncle to share in dialogue.
My uncle was the president of Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts, where he was the first Black president. He also had served as president of Virginia Union University and president of Allen University in South Carolina. This was an important meeting to discuss the future of the church and how it could deliver victory from apartheid in South Africa.
The beloved Archbishop Tutu joins the spirit of many of our beloved leaders of faith and action such as theologians Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor and Dr. Martin L. King Jr.; Malcolm X; Gen. Colin Powell; and educators Dr. Shannon, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington and Dr. Benjamin E. Mays. May they all continue to rest in peace.
The advocacy of Archbishop Tutu led to the peaceful transition of a new South Africa. His work also led to a great awakening from former South Africa President F.W. de Klerk, who confessed that the apartheid system was not right and that Black people and white people must share the leadership for a new South Africa. After the apartheid system was dismantled, President de Klerk served as deputy president under Nelson Mandela, who was the president of a new South Africa.
Presently, we continue Archbishop Tutu’s dream at First Baptist Church Centralia, where I have served for 30 years as pastor. We are shadowing a Baptist church in Pretoria, South Africa, today to get books, computer games and toys to children in South Africa.
We believe the grandchildren of the post-Mandela age and all children of South Africa should benefit from the legacy of love and leadership espoused by President Mandela and Archbishop Tutu.
I will remember Archbishop Tutu said, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in.”
DR. WILSON E.B. SHANNON