God’s fitting gift to Mzansi

Johannesburg- One autumn day while sitting on the terrace of her home in the Druid Hills neighbourhood of Atlanta in the US, a woman saw a short cassock-wearing black man walking by, his hands folded behind the back.

He must have felt her curious eyes boring into him. He stopped and greeted the woman. “Oh my God,” she exclaimed when she realised who he was. “No Mam, I am not God, I am Bishop Tutu from South Africa.”

After my guest lecture at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in 2001, the woman herself told me this story. In many countries where I have lectured or attended conferences, I have seldom failed to find people or communities with stories of encounters with Desmond Tutu. Many such encounters are hilarious.

I was at the German Kirchentag Festival in Cologne in 2007 when Tutu narrated his own version of how God created humans.

I paraphrase: Apparently, in the first attempt, God left the moulded clay figures way too long in the furnace. The result was black people.

In the second attempt, God removed the clay figures too quickly from the oven. The result was the pale-looking, half-baked fellows we call white people.

“Neither the blacks nor the whites are perfect, we were all born with factory faults, you see,” said Tutu to an audience roaring with laughter.


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