Q & A: Desmond Tutu

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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TIME: Why do you think your efforts to equate the struggle for gay rights with the fight against apartheid has fallen on deaf ears among many African Anglican leaders?
Tutu: I wish I knew. We seem almost to be programmed to have our identity defined by our againstness. Especially in a time of great change, people want something to hold on to. Diversity confuses you, so you are opposed to it.

TIME: Does a possible split in the Anglican Communion make you want to intervene on this issue?
Tutu: No. You have your point of view but if you say you are retired, for goodness' sake, look at the sign that says exit and follow it. I hope [a rift] won't happen. But if it happens, it doesn't mean that God has been defeated.

TIME: You've criticized the global response to Darfur. How do you explain the inaction?
Tutu: In the past there was a kind of indifference. The response has tended not to be as quick when things happen in Africa as, say, Bosnia. When your complexion is swarthy, you tend to be at the bottom of the queue. But let's congratulate them this time. Kofi Annan and the Security Council acted far more quickly than they did with Rwanda.

TIME: How close is South Africa to realizing your dream of uniting as a "rainbow people of God"?
Tutu: Reconciliation is a long process. We don't have the kind of race clashes that we thought would happen. What we have is xenophobia, and it's very distressing. But maybe you ought to be lenient with us. We've been free for just 12 years.

TIME: You and Nelson Mandela have quibbled over fashion in the past. For the record, who's the better dresser?
Tutu: Modesty prevents me from saying what I really think. But... his sartorial taste is the pits! [Laughs] He's such a lovely guy, but he was nasty to me when I publicly commented on it. He said the critique was pretty amusing coming from a man who wears a dress!

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