Tutu meets Tutu and cracks up!
The man who likes to raise a laugh
“When we stop taking ourselves too seriously we will be showing just how we have grown. It's when you are hypersensitive about your dignity and all of this.” - Desmond Tutu
Everyone who has read my Hubs will know that I am a great admirer of that man in the “pink dress” (as the late, great Nelson Mandela once called him), otherwise known as “The Arch”, or simply, “Arch”.
To give him his full moniker, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Desmond Mpilo Tutu, is known for his puckish and sometimes even slightly naughty humour. Tutu has poked fun at himself and, sometimes, at others, and is known for not taking himself too seriously.
When Zimbabwe was known as Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, the late Bishop Abel Muzorewa was in Ian Smith's “rebel” Cabinet ruling that sad country. Muzorewa was widely regarded as a sell out by the liberation movements and blacks in Southern Africa were not too highly impressed with him for joining the Smith regime.
Tutu used to tell the story with great gusto and amusement of a flight he took from Durban to Johannesburg at that time on which he sat next to an elderly white lady who greeted him effusively at the start of the flight, and chatted away with him all the way through the flight. Tutu said he was starting to think things were really changing if a white woman could be so friendly to him at a time when most of white South Africa saw him as some kind of revolutionary, as an anti-white rabble-rouser. The bubble burst at the end of the flight, when they were disembarking, and she turned to him and asked, “You are Bishop Muzorewa, aren't you!”
Tutu has a fund of tales like that, which he loves to regale people with. He seldom fails to raise a good laugh when he tells his stories.
Turning the tables on Tutu
Recently though, the tables were turned on him when the people from Zanews visited Tutu in his Cape Town offices.
Zanews is the brainchild of cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (also known as Zapiro - whom Tutu has called the sharpest of nibs) and his colleague Thierry Cassuto. It is a puppet show, an “alternative” news show, which pokes some sharp nibs at the politics and politicians of South Africa.
In 2007 Zanews approached the public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) for a programme slot. Initially the SABC agreed, but later Zanews was denied the slot.. Zanews was then in 2009 with the help of an airline and the weekly Mail and Guardian, Zanews got a new lease of life on the Internet.
Recently the Zanews “news team” went to Tutu's offices in Cape Town to “interview” him – the accompanying videos are the result of that “interview” - which I find hilarious.
For each video I will provide a short commentary, just to help non-South Africans with some of the names and issues with which they might not be familiar so as to help viewers understand the jokes which point at some particular South African situation.
Video One: Are you going to offer me some tea?
Julius Malema who is mentioned in the video was at the time the National President of the African National Congress Youth League (Malema was later expelled from the ANC and has subsequently founded his own party called the Economic Freedom Fighters). He is famous for putting his foot firmly in his mouth and then denying that it is there, in spite of the fact that everyone else can see it. The Youth League has a long and honourable history, having been founded in the late 1940s by such luminaries as former president Nelson Mandela, and his comrades Walter Sisulu and Anton Lembede.
The video ends with the other Tutu saying “I'm sharp-sharp!” This is a South African expression meaning roughly A-OK.
Video Two: Morgan Freeman is too tall!
Besides Graca Machel, Mandela in this clip calls for his Personal Assistant, Zelda le Grange who has been his devoted helper for more than ten years. She is a young Afrikaans speaking woman. Typical of Mandela to have as his closest helpers a Mozambican lady and an Afrikaner. Diversity practised as much as preached!
Video Three: Godzilla, the lady with balls!
Tutu (the real one) mentions Helen Zille as one of the characters he likes in Zanews. Zille is the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance and also Premier of the Western Cape Province, of which Cape Town is the capital. Because of her strength as a politician, and her no-nonsense approach, the press has nick-named her, a little unkindly, “Godzilla.” The reference to “my friend Trevor” is to former Minster in the Presidency Trevor Manuel.
Tutu's appearance at the 2010 Soccer World Cup Kick-Off Concert is referenced here. The video clip of his appearance is in the video capsule below.
Video Four: iPad or iPhone?
Tutu the puppet makes fun of the isiXhosa language of Tutu. Many nouns in isiXhosa have the prefix “i-” and it is quite common in the language when there is no equivalent word in isiXhosa to use the English word with the “i-”prefix.
Video Five: democracy and not taking ourselves too seriously
This video shows Desmond in typical teaching mode. He gets quite serious, though thankfully the seriousness doesn't last too long!
He says, “In many ways it shows how mature you are as a democracy when you allow people to poke fun at you, at yourselves, not taking ourselves too seriously. And sometimes wonderful truths, or painful truths, can be communicated through the medium of things like you (meaning the puppet Tutu).”
Video Six: have you ever scored a goal?
The reason the mention of former president Thabo Mbeki causes such mirth is that there was a rumour that the SABC had banned the mention of his name on air. This has since been denied and he has in fact been mentioned quite often recently. Tutu (the real one!) is known to have been an Mbeki supporter and is known to be somewhat disenchanted with present president Jacob Zuma.
A fantastic human being
I hope readers have found these videos as funny and enjoyable as I do. I think they show Tutu as the fantastic human being he is, full of humour and yet with an undying commitment to people.
The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.
© Tony McGregor 2010
More by this Author
A vicious man is sentenced to life in prison, leaving behind children and other family members to cope with the aftermath of his crime spree
Smuts continued to dominate South African politics and began to be seen as a leading figure on the international stage as well.
Empathy is an attitude and more than that, it is a skill that can be used to deepen all kinds of relationships - at work and at home.