Goteborg Book Fair – In Forgiveness Service

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Photography: Per-Anders Pettersson












Being able to forgive is about survival, and requires hands-on practice. In his new book shows Desmond Tutu that forgiveness can heal both relationships and hypertension.

It is still dark when the first commuters pour into the center of Cape Town. In the chilly winter morning limps unnoticed a hunched figure leaning on a cane against the old cathedral next Parliament. The hood on the yellow raincoat is raised to cover against wind and horizontal rain.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu should be one of the world’s great authorities on forgiveness. How often we did not see television pictures of tutus tears in the mid-1990s, when he led South Africa’s Truth and listened to hundreds of horrific tales of murder, oppression and abuse. To forgive is not to forget, he inculcated even then.

Tutus church
At 83 years old he lives today more reclusive. Of public life remains a short morning mass every Friday.

Some 50 usually come. Some are regulars, others occasionally slips in to collect his thoughts before the working day and the upcoming weekend. And of course the tourists, who heard about the chance to experience Peace Prize winner and legendary “Father Desmond” as he addressed as this.

St. George’s Cathedral is the formal name, but usually you just say “Tutus church,” so everyone knows. It was he filled with his political sermons in the 70s and 80s. Over the world spread reports of the strange priest who one moment was laughing like a clown, and next with blazing eyes in reeking condemned his government for crimes against humanity. Nelson Mandela and other liberation leaders were jailed, but himself archbishop ventured apartheid’s architects not incarcerate.

Tutu is still a political priest and a thorn in the side of the rulers. Who could have dreamed that Mandela’s close friend and neighbor from Soweto today would take away from Mandela’s ANC party? Tutu stands namely sticking to their old ideals of morality, ethics and honesty.

Seriousness and humor in the show
Fairs Morning rituals are simple and quickly dusted. A short reading from the Anglican prayer book and a prayer for those in need, this time trapped Turkish miners and the Nigerian girls who have been kidnapped by terrorists.

There is a fair with both seriousness and humor. When the congregation motläser verses for drawling they get a reprimand:

- Disrepair! Redo!

Everyone laughs and makes for better immersion. First-time visitors get to stand up and introduce themselves. Tutu for a short conversation with each and everyone receives a warm applause. Just today, eight professional football player from London, engaged in an aid project in the slum town of Khayelitsha. And a Norwegian-South African couple with two children who had flown in from Durban exclusively for the show and for a dedication of the new book The Book of forgiving Fair ends with communion for those who want. Afterwards, everyone who wants to be photographed with Tutu.

New book forgiveness close manual
When visitors scattered beats we sit down in a cafe. Tutu ordering a milkshake with chocolate and talks about his upcoming visit to the book fair in Gothenburg. And he talks about his first contact Sweden, a Swedish missionary school in Roodepoort in the 1930s. The headmaster’s name was given Karl Magnus Danell.

This is Tutus second förlåtelsebok. The first, No Future Without Forgiveness, came directly after the Truth Commission. The new one is more practical. Like a manual on how to screw together a piece of IKEA furniture, he and co-author daughter Mpho Tutu step by step through how to assemble sinners forgiveness, not sins. The chapters end with tangible exercises, a mix of psychology and religion. As he describes in concrete over the coffee table consequences of not forgiving:

- Forgiveness is a gift to yourself to survive. The year after year dwell on past hurts not only become careworn spinster but also sick. We have seen how those who carry old grudges get physical symptoms: heart problems, ulcers, high blood pressure and other ailments, says Tutu and grasps the straw.

- A marriage may break down. All relationships can be lost and you lose hope. We talk about the usual objections: Why should I forgive? Can I forgive someone who does not even apologized? We want to show how to solve the problem.

Save or break the relationship the difficult decision
Is it as simple as just saying the words: I forgive you?

- No, of course not. It’s what happens after the words, showing authenticity. You go through clearly defined steps: to tell their story, to identify what went wrong, to decide to forgive. Next comes the difficult decision whether to save or break the relationship.

The Truth Commission was criticized for perpetrators escaped punishment. Can not be forgiven just a way for the guilty to avoid taking responsibility?

- If someone has stolen from you, then say that he stole your bike, so you can forgive him. But there are also consequences from the state that says you violated a law and must pay the price.

We all have a conscience
It is not about either or?

- No. But anyone who is genuinely sorry for what he done and asking for forgiveness usually like to show that he is serious. Certainly there are those who do not care and say sorry without meaning it. But that’s their problem, not yours. In the long run, they will experience the consequences. They may not be able to sleep, or get a disease. They can walk around and pretend that they are doing well, but we all have a conscience. It can be deaf to conscience but never kill it.

The rest of the book has become a campaign via the Internet,, where Desmond and Mpho Tutu is challenging people in 160 countries that dare to forgive: When enough forgiven, we have changed the world.

- You can not learn to play the violin by reading a book. You can not read a manual on how to swim, and then float on the water. They have to practice practical. The same restriction applies to books on forgiveness, says Desmond Tutu.

Article by: Ola Blessed
Article taken from Svenska Kyrkan