The maintenance crew were hard at work over the Christams vacation. The Music Room (above) earned a dashing new blue carpet!
I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday and looking forward to the weekend. The buzz of lawnmowers, sloshing of mops and general business around campus signals the anticipation of our reopening on Monday. We cant wait!
The holiday period was memorable for some of us as we learned of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. As a little boy in Arusha, I remember when Desmond Tutu visited our house. I dont remember much but I do remember laughter and lots of it!
Why would the death of Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, be mentionable in our newsletter? Well i shall habd over to our Director Anna who wrote this inspiring letter earlier this week and I think it captures everything that we should be about…
“Archbishop Tutu and his wife Leah were teachers who were passionate about education. What you might not know is that they were also friends of UWC. Their children studied at UWC Waterford Kamhlaba and this was the beginning of his relationship with the movement. In 2014, on the opening of UWC RBC, Archbishop Tutu wrote:
I believe firmly in the importance of a good education. My father was a teacher, my mother a cook and cleaner at a school for the blind. My wife Leah and I both trained as teachers and then taught in South Africa in the 1950s. When we see the face of a child, we think of the future. We think of their dreams about what they might become, and what they might accomplish. To help a child realize his or her potential is one of the great privileges of life.
The infamous “Bantu Education Act” – whose fundamental premise was to train South African black students into an attitude and positions of inferiority – was passed by the Apartheid Government in 1953 and implemented two years later. Despite the tragedy of so many black children not having any access to schooling of any kind and not being able to reach their fullest potential, we believed the Bantu Education Act was an even greater tragedy. Leah and I felt we had no choice but to quit in protest. We believe in the importance of a good education, not “education for servitude”.
Today, there still are 72 million children in the world who have had at least part of their futures stolen from them. That’s because they’ve been denied a basic education. Universal education is a moral imperative. Inclusive, good quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies.
The symbolic and practical role that the United World Colleges (UWC) can play is important. UWC creates awareness amongst its students and within society. UWC provides access to some outstanding young people, many of whom would not otherwise be able to obtain a good-quality education. UWC creates a context where a sense of purpose can develop. My own children had the privilege of attending Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland, the sister school to the new UWC Robert Bosch College. My children found a school where all were welcome, black, white, rich, poor, a school where there were no outsiders. They found a school that lived the idea that we all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family. They found a place where as part of the curriculum students went beyond the school to work in the community. They found a school where the concept of leadership was not to lord it over people but rather to expend oneself for people. The founder of Waterford Kamhlaba, Michael Stern, led by example not by decree. Every student who develops these attitudes of service and servant leadership in addition to strong academic skills is a gift to the world. This is even more so when these students come from poor and oppressed communities and remain committed to making a difference.
The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and UWC share a common commitment: to create a society that nurtures tolerance and understanding amongst all people. This remains a tremendously important task in countries like South Africa and Germany. However, this is not the same as a passive neutrality. As I have said before, if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Twenty-five years ago people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change. Today we have no excuse. No more can it be dismissed as science fiction; we are already feeling the effects. The horse of climate change may not have bolted, but it’s well on its way through the stable door. Who can stop it? Well, we can, you and I. And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so. It is a responsibility that begins with God commanding the first human inhabitants of the garden of Eden “to till it and keep it”. To keep it; not to abuse it, not to destroy it.
There are many ways that all of us can fight against climate change: by not wasting energy, for instance. But these individual measures will not make a big enough difference in the available time. We need to take collective action in many different forms including through “passive resistance” against bad policy and the worst carbon emitters. We must support the best minds to focus positively on climate change, minds with a global perspective, minds with a conscience and a willingness to act. For we need to act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands.” (Anna Marsden, 2022)
So, the passing of Desmond Tutu was sad. Of course. But read the words of President Ramaphosa who acknowledged his death in the most perfect way.
“Tears are sometimes an inappropriate response to death. When a life has been lived completely honestly, completely successfully, or just completely, the correct response to death’s perfect punctuation mark, is a smile.”
I hope I can be a bit like Desmond this year.