Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu’s
Award-reception speech

Danish Church, London November 7, 2007

Dear friends, Your Excellency, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Pastor of the Danish Church

I am so very deeply touched by this honor

Said in Danish: Tusind Tak = A Thousand Thanks very much for something that still has overwhelmed me and flabbergasted me. I am so very deeply touched by this honor that you bestow on me.
I don’t know whether you heard the story of the widow attending her husband’s funeral with her young son?
And you know usually at funerals the pastor uses and everybody else uses very nice words and the pastor was going straight on praising the deceased and the widow turned to her son and said: ”I think we have come to the wrong funeral.” (Laughter)
So I have to be careful, when I listen to nice things been said. Thank you very much.
I also want to say and I hope Your Excellency you would convey it to the wonderful People of Denmark.

The South African Counsel of Churches

Dan Vaughan and I worked for the South African Counsel of Churches at a very difficult time in the life of our country when most of our leaders were either in jail or in exile and apartheid seemed like it was not going to end.
We were able to give support to the families of political prisoners and those who were been detained without trial. Many of those were in high security prison such as Robben Island.
We were able to provide funds to enable the families to visit. People from Johannesburg to go to Cape Town, and then to take the ferry to Robben Island. And we were able to provide them with accommodation in Cape Town because what they used to do was that they would take one visit and then go back to Cape Town and wait there to the next day, so they could have two visits before returning to the rest of the country.
We were also able at the time to pay for legal defense for many who were appearing in cases, political cases. Many of those would not have had such legal defense if the South African Counsel of Churches had not been able to provide funds. Many of them would not have been able to visit their loved ones on Robben Island, and we were also able to put up scholarships to people to go to college and university.

DanChurchAid was one of the most faithful

I am telling you all this so you know that a lot of the money we received, we got through an organization called DanChurchAid.
DanChurchAid was one of the most faithful committed supporters of the South African Counsel of Churches. And I know that they in turn received almost all of their funds from the then Danish government.
So I hope you will convey to our friends there, a very deep thank you for having helped us in this particular way. But that was not the only way. Your Excellency, you mentioned support given to ANC.
The Scandinavian countries in particular were some of our strongest, most faithful and committed supporters throughout our struggle against the vicious system of apartheid.
Many, many times as you know there were those who said:
”Nelson Mandela is a terrorist and ANC and all of those are terrorist organizations”

Trying to persuade Mrs. Thatcher and president Reagan

I remember coming to No.10 Downing Street trying to persuade Mrs. Thatcher to apply sanctions against the South African government, and I had a very long and a very friendly meeting and was there for more than 50 minutes. I spoke for nearly 10 minutes and she spoke for the rest of the time. But the Lady was not for turning.
We tried it as well with President Reagan whom I meet after I got the Nobel Peace Prize. I had tried to visit him but he was not prepared to receive me. Then on the day the Noble Peace Prize was announced I got a message to say that the President would be very happy to receive me in The Oval Office and even then I tried to persuade him that sanctions were the only non-violent means available for us to topple a vicious system.
So there were not too many in Western Europe we could always be sure of. German churches were very good, but we could almost always rely on Scandinavia, and I must say we had very little problems with persuading DanChurchAid.

The interviewer was a very beautiful young lady

I also have to say that Dan ChurchAid got me into big trouble, because I was interviewed one day in Copenhagen. Perhaps it was because the interviewer was a very beautiful young lady, and I let down my defensives. She asked me a question about Denmark buying South African coal, and I said well it was a disgrace or something. It caused quite a fury at home but it was a good fury.

Thank you for this award.

So, I want to thank you very deeply - thank you for this award.
Thank you to Denmark because the fact that we were able to defeat apartheid in the manner in which we did, facilitated the process of ”The Truth and Reconciliation Committee.”
If the struggle had been a long drawn struggle and a violent one it would probably had been more difficult for us to had been more forgiving.
People would probably have got a great deal more upset and angry and resentful of the manner of overcoming apartheid – I don’t say it was the main cause – it certainly facilitated the process of reconciliation.
So you have an important contribution that you made which enabled us to appear good.
Without your help we may have appeared a great deal more angry and more inclined to speak revenge, rather than magnanimity and looking to restore justice rather than reattributed justice.
So you may not have thought so, but I believe that you contributed to make us to look good. We may have been less able without your help.
The last thing I want to say is. Yes I accept this award but almost all of the awards that I receive I say I receive them in a representative capacity.
You may or may not know but when the Nobel Peace Prize Committee awarded me the Nobel Peace Prize they said among other things that while they were hounoring me in doing so they were also honouring the many others at home who had been part of the struggle.
Because as you very well know, what is a leader without followers? It is only because that there are those people, - generous and willing to follow you that you become a leader. I usually say when you are in a crowd and you stand out in the crowd it is only because you are carried on the shoulders of others.

I receive it on behalf of the many millions

So I receive this not as a personal accolade. I receive it on behalf of the many millions, without whom we would not be where we are and so thank you.
I want to finish to say that last week we were in the Kennedy Library in Boston and I was part of a panel with judge Richard Goldstone and chief justice Margaret Marshall.
In the course of those events there in the beautiful library and very wonderful settings as you probably know they said they quoted some words where they showed a video of senator Kennedy when he went to South Africa, but they referred I think to words that president Kennedy spoke possibly at the inauguration where he said: The changes that all of them hoped to see happen are not going to happen after the first hundred days they may not happen in and he went on twenty years, thirty years maybe hundred years.
But that is not important. The important thing is that you will have made a beginning.
That you will have made a beginning for people to recognize that we belong in one family.


We are children of one Father

We are children of one Father we may not always look alike.
- They were telling the story of how God created human beings. Created them out of dust and then put them in an oven to bake them. And God forgot that he got busy with other things (laughter) and forgot that he has put this lodge in the oven. When he came to he opened the oven and they were all burned and he said this is how black people came about (laughter). So God put the second lodge in but this time God was overanxious and opened the oven too quickly and so these were underdone (laughter) and white people came about.
We are in fact members of one family. We don’t always behave so. And it may take a very long time for all of us to come to realize that in fact we are members of one family. When one part of the family suffers whether we like it or not in fact all will suffer.
And when one part flourish whether we like it or not all will flourish.
It doesn’t matter that we don’t recognize it all of us now. The point is we have made a beginning.
Thank you.                 

(Long applause )