Special Event

                                                                    Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Every year for the world cruise, Stein Kruse, the CEO of the Holland America Group, throws a huge party for us around the mid-point of the cruise.  Past examples include an African Braai party and a Mardi Gras party.  This year Mr. Kruse decided to change things up a bit, and invited Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Soweto Strings and the Soweto Gospel Choir aboard.

About two years ago the plan was launched and we are the beneficiaries.  They approached Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu to see if he would be willing to join us on part of the cruise and share some of his experiences with us.  They offered to pay him a fee but he declined and asked only for a donation to his foundation.  He didn't specify an amount.  Amazing!

For any who might not remember, he was very involved in the transition from South African Apartheid to integrated and democratic government in South Africa.  The turmoil in the country and the potential for extreme violence was huge.  Nelson Mandela was in prison (27 years worth) but he had been the leader of the resistance organization at the time he was arrested.  During the years he was in prison he developed a maturity and attitude which made it possible for him to negotiate with the all white government leaders for the end of Apartheid.  Tutu was very much involved as well and they managed to come up with a way to peacefully transition from the old to the new.  The situation here has not completely changed but Mandela became the first black president of South Africa and they found a way to give everyone a fair share of the country's power and rights.  Truly remarkable when you look around at the world today and how many violent transitions other countries are experiencing.

The program that we went to involving "the Arch" as he is known to his friends was an hour and a half long.  The first hour was an interview by a longtime friend of his, Robert Taylor (who now lives in the US but was a South African when all the excitement was going on), who runs a foundation in the US connected to the Tutu Foundation in South Africa.  The last half hour was opened up for questions.

The program was enlightening and inspiring to say the least.  We will not try to summarize it here other than to say that the Nbunto Philosophy (something Tutu described and lives) means basically that “we are all connected and what affects one of us affects us all.”  This was an absolutely amazing experience, a once in a lifetime opportunity for us.  The Archbishop clearly understands all the important things about life, plus he is a diplomat and has a great sense of humor.  We wish that everyone could listen to him and be impacted by what he says.  For us this was a wonderful substitution, though there were some who would rather have had a party.

The Archbishop also conducted a church service, with the Soweto Gospel Choir, which we heard was awesome.  We had a previous obligation so we were unable to attend the service.

Our pillow gift for the formal night that happened during the Archbishop’s visit was copies of the official  biography of Desmond Tutu with signed cards from both the Arch Bishop (including a blessing) and Stein Kruse.

During this part of the trip we also got to attend a lecture by Robert Taylor which was very informative.  We had the usual Q & A session with Mr. Kruse, a concert by the Soweto Gospel Choir and a concert by the Soweto Strings.  The joy and energy of the members of both of these groups was very uplifting.

Unfortunately we have no personal photos from this remarkable experience.  The photos included are courtesy of the ship’s photographers.

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com