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Desmond Tutu’s Lively Tribute to Nelson Mandela: “He Gave Us an Incredible Gift”

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Former archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu attended today’s memorial for Nelson Mandela, but did not speak. But he led a lively tribute Monday evening to honor his close friend. After the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is now 82 years old. The intimate gathering where Tutu spoke in Johannesburg was hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Music from the Mandela memorial service today, held in Soweto at the soccer stadium where President Nelson Mandela last gave a public address two years ago—three years ago, in 2010. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

We turn now to former archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu. While he attended today’s memorial for Nelson Mandela, he did not speak. He led a lively tribute, though, Monday evening to honor his close friend. After the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He’s now 82 years old. The intimate gathering where Tutu spoke in Johannesburg was hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

DESMOND TUTU: We have come here—no, and we are mourning a little bit. But mostly we’re saying, “God, for goodness’ sake, we think you are not a bad god. And you gave us—you gave us an incredible gift.” An incredible—who ever in the right mind imagined that we would see the kind of coverage every single day, not—not only in South African newspapers, overseas? You wouldn’t—you wouldn’t believe—you wouldn’t believe it if somebody told you. [inaudible] BBC, [inaudible] China. Can you—who ever imagined? Over here we have three presidents of the United States. Three—four! I didn’t know how to count. Four! Four! Seventy-five heads of state. A friend in India wrote to us to say, “You know, India is observing five days, five days of mourning.”

It’s wonderful to be married. But, you know, when you are a public speaker and you have your wife in the audience, you mustn’t look at it. I mean, she’s intimidating me! Ma Tutu, I will buy you a nice dress.

Hey, have you—have you seen something? Did you see the front page of Rapport? Did you—did you see? Now, you know, Rapport, Rapport is the main Sunday Afrikaans newspaper. The front page. You can’t believe it. The front page was a young, white, almost certainly Afrikaner. What is he doing? He has got his arms around a middle-aged black woman. She is crying, and he is consoling her. He’s consoling her. This is—this is what—this is what Madiba has done. This is what Madiba has done. And he was—he didn’t just speak and say, “Do as I say and not do as I do.”

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to and watching the former archbishop of South Africa, Desmond Tutu, on this day that the Nobel Peace Prize is given out in Oslo. He is a previous Nobel Peace laureate.

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“A Pan-Africanist Hero”: Nelson Mandela Remembered by African Union Commission Chairwoman

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