Beginning each chapter with “Dear Child of God,” Desmond Mpilo Tutu, the first black Archbishop of Cape Town (1986-1996), presents in God Has a Dream a pastoral type of intellectual and spiritual memoir that he sees as a “cumulative expression” of his life’s work. Based largely on earlier writings, speeches, and sermons, it provides an invaluable summary of Tutu’s philosophy, with highlights of the South African struggle against apartheid (racial segregation). Written with his friend Douglas Abrams, God Has a Dream describes in detail the events and emotions that surrounded South Africa’s first democratic general election in April, 1994, which is celebrated there each year on April 27 as Liberty Day. Tutu never loses sight of the broader context of global human freedom and dignity. God’s “dream,” on which the book is premised, is described in sweeping terms reminiscent of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the March on Washington in 1963. This dream, however, is distinctively Tutu’s and South Africa’s.
Archbishop Tutu was deeply involved in the South African struggle long before 1994, working incessantly to try to free long-imprisoned African National Congress (ANC) activist Nelson Mandela and encouraging international sanctions against South Africa and corporate divestment from it. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent efforts against racial injustice in South Africa and beyond. When Tutu retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996, Mandela—by then released from his twenty-seven-year incarceration and elected president of South Africa—appointed him chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created to bring to light the atrocities of apartheid and to promote reconciliation between former oppressed people and those who had oppressed them.
God Has a Dream is replete with humor, inclusiveness, and deceptively simple challenges based on the notion that all people have a role to play in the...
(The entire section is 823 words.)