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No Future Without Forgiveness

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The establishment of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a pioneering international event. Never had any country sought to move forward from despotism to democracy both by exposing the atrocities committed in the past and achieving reconciliation with its former oppressors. At the center of this unprecedented attempt at healing a nation has been Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whom President Nelson Mandela named as Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. With the final report of the Commission just published, Archbishop Tutu offers his reflections on the profound wisdom he has gained by helping usher South Africa through this painful experience.

In No Future Without Forgiveness, Tutu argues that true reconciliation cannot be achieved by denying the past.  But nor is it easy to reconcile when a nation "looks the beast in the eye." Rather than repeat platitudes about forgiveness, he presents a bold spirituality that recognizes the horrors people can inflict upon one another, and yet retains a sense of idealism about reconciliation. With a clarity of pitch born out of decades of experience, Tutu shows readers how to move forward with honesty and compassion to build a newer and more humane world.

304 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1999

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About the author

Desmond Tutu

214 books470 followers
Desmond Mpilo Tutu was a South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. In 1984, Tutu became the second South African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu was the first black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa). Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is currently the chairman of The Elders. Tutu was vocal in his defense of human rights and used his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. Tutu also campaigned to fight AIDS, homophobia, poverty and racism.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Tutu has also compiled several books of his speeches and sayings.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews
Profile Image for Heather S. Jones.
93 reviews25 followers
November 15, 2007
i am so glad this man is in our world! someone who is universally recognized to have done something so great for humanity by trumpeting reconciliation and forgiveness and brotherhood. his compassion is immense. he is the inspiration for the name of my first child -- it is men like this who make me hope.

some of my favorite snippets from the book:

"I would not know how to be a human being at all, except i learned this from other human beings. We are made for a delicate network of relationships, of interdependence. not even the most powerful nation can be completely self-sufficient"

"All I am saying is that the bible and our faith and its tradition declare unequivically that for an authentic Christian existence the absolute priority must be spirituality. . . we must be marked by a heightened God consciousness. Then all kinds of things will happen."

"We are bound together in what the bible calls "the bundle of life". Our humanity is caught up in that of all others. We are human because we belong. We are made for community, for togetherness, for family, to exist in a delicate network of interdependence. Truly, "it is not good for man to be alone," for no one can be human alone."

"To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest."
Profile Image for Mostafa.
349 reviews35 followers
January 24, 2023
4.5 stars
سرنگونی رژیم آپارتاید
بدون خشونت و حرکت
به سمت دموکراسی
رژیم آپارتاید و تبعیض نژادی از سال ۱۹۴۸ با روی کار آمدن ناسیونالیست های آفریکانر فصل جدیدی در تاریخ آفریقای جنوبی پدید آورد که همراه با قتل و کشتار و تجاوز بود
نلسون ماندلا از برجسته ترین مبارزین علیه آپارتاید و تبعیض نژادی بعد از چندین دهه در سال ۱۹۹۰ از زندان آزاد شد و زمینه را برای برگزاری انتخابات با حضور سیاه پوستان که تا آن موقع محروم از حق رای دادن بودن، فراهم کرد

بعد از پیروزی سیاه پوستان، نخبگان سیاسی و مذهبی تصمیم به ایجاد کمیسیون های صلح و آشتی گرفتند که ریاست آن به عهده دزموند توتو( نویسنده این اثر) بود

قرار بر این شد که سران رژیم گذشته در قبال ارائه اطلاعات و اقداماتی که در آن دوران سیاه مرتکب شدند، مورد عفو قرار بگیرند و البته دولت هم به برخی از بازماندگانِ قربانیان غرامت بپردازد

این تجربه ، موجب حرکت آرام و ��دون خشونت آفریقای جنوبی از خشونت به دموکراسی و صلح شد.. بسیاری از سران رژیم آپارتاید در این محاکم شرکت کردند و مورد عفو قرار گرفتند... دقیقا در همین ایام در روآندا، قوم هوتو پس از شکست و نوعی کودتا علیه توتسی ها دست به جنایاتی زدند که امکان تایپ و نگارش شرح وقایع آن را ندارم... جزئیات این جنایات در گزارش سازمان ملل در رسیدگی به نسل کشی روآندا در تاریخ ثبت است
Profile Image for Becca.
360 reviews4 followers
March 3, 2015
Another re-read of this book. Spent the day finishing the last half of the book with tears streaming down my face. The writing is that of an easily-distracted theologian/pastor so frequently off-topic but also of someone who has seen the worst of what humanity can do to each other and still believes in a God who is so much bigger. The emotion that Tutu conveys when interweaving the testimonies of both the victims and the perpetrators (sometimes one and the same) of apartheid with his understanding of God and of people made in His image and of forgiveness is breathtaking. Loved it when I first read it in 2003 and it's still resonating with and teaching me in 2015.
Profile Image for Jinna.
121 reviews1 follower
August 5, 2008
Wow. There are some great people out in this world. I'll just leave a quote from the book that shows the spirit in which the TRC was created. It shows a bit of the cultural heart that South Africa has. They call it Ubuntu. It gives a glimpse into how God’s idea of justice is not retaliation, but reconciliation.

Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, “Yu, u nobunu.” Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” We belong in a bundle of life. We say, “ A person is a person through other persons.” It is not, “I think therefore I am.” It says rather: “I am human because I belong. I participate, I share.” A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.

Harmony, friendliness, community are great goods. Social harmony is for us the summum bonum – the greatest good. Anything that subverts, that undermines this sought-after good, is to be avoided like the plague. Anger, resentment, lust for revenge, even success through aggressive competitiveness, are corrosive of this good. To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. What dehumanizes you inexorably dehumanizes me. It gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.

Profile Image for Barry.
902 reviews37 followers
September 6, 2020
This is a powerful and poignant account of the work of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission after Mandela became president and apartheid was dismantled. Tutu and Mandela understood that the only path forward was through repentance and forgiveness. There are clearly important lessons for the US here.

I also found Tutu’s view of reparations very interesting. He realized that it would be impossible to provide true financial compensation for the suffering inflicted during the years of apartheid, but he recognized that the meager payouts still had great symbolic value and were therefore beneficial to promote healing.
Profile Image for Hamid.
96 reviews10 followers
May 18, 2022
خیلی وقتها از خودم سوال میکنم که گزینه جایگزین برای ما چیه؟ فرضا این نظام هم رفت، راهکار چیه و چکار باید کرد؟ از بعضی تهدیدهایی که در فضای مجازی میبینم واقعا میترسم و غصه ام میگیره. این کتاب در مورد راهکار آفریقای جنوبی، بعد از نظام آپارتاید هست. خیلی خوب بود. درد و رنج مردم سیاه رو بخوبی به تصویر کشیده و کار بزرگی که بعد از بقدرت رسیدن ماندلا انجام میشه رو توضیح میده
به نظرم برای همه خوندنش مفیده تا بدونیم که راهکار نه دادگاه های انقلابی و دادگاه نورنبرگ هست بلکه راه میانه ای از «بخشیدن ولی فراموش نکردن» اعتراف کردن ولی عفو کردن

قسمتهایی از این کتاب عزیز:
۱. «برای موفقیت مذاکرات انتقال مسالمت‌آمیز آفریقای جنوبی از رژیم آپارتاید به جامعۀ دموکرات و برابر، ما نه‌تنها نیاز به موافقت و همراهی قربانیان خشونت داریم، بلکه نیازمند تائید و همراهی کسانی هستیم که در اثر این گذار مسالمت‌آمیز، منافع و موقعیت‌شان مورد تهدید قرار می‌گیرد.

۲. ما می‌توانستیم عدالت را داشته باشیم، عدالت کیفری را داشته باشیم اما درعین‌حال آفریقای جنوبی‌ای روی دست‌مان می‌ماند که بردی بدتر از باخت نصیبش شده بود.

۳. بنابراین کمیسیون به این نتیجه رسید که بهترین روش برای فهمیدن تمام حقیقت در هر پرونده، این است که هرکس که درخواست‌ عفو و بخشش ارائه می‌دهد، برای مشمول عفو شدن، باید تمام حقیقت را روشن و شفاف بیان کند. درواقع مسیر قانونی برعکس شد و درخواست‌کننده‌ها باید با افشای حقایق، از خود رفع مسئولیت کیفری می‌کردند.

۴. «هرکس که گذشته را فراموش کند، محکوم به تکرار آن

۵. : راهی بین افراط دادگاه نورنبرگ و تفریط فراموشی عمومی. افراد بدون در نظر گرفتن رنگ و نژاد و تنها به‌‌دلیل افشای تمام وکمال حقایق، لایق دریافت عفو بودند.

۶. نلسون ماندلا از زندان بیرون آمد؛ اما نه با تنفر و حس انتقام‌جویی. او با نشان دادن قدرت آشتی‌جویی و بخشش خود، همۀ ما را شگفت‌زده کرد.

۷ برای بسیاری از آن‌ها، این اعترافات منجر به ‌جدایی از همسران‌شان شد که تجربه‌ای دردآور برای آن‌ها بود. این بخشی از هزینه‌هایی بود که آن‌ها باید می‌پرداختند. بنابراین، این‌ ادعا که متهمان به‌راحتی از امکان عفو و آزادی برخوردار شدند، موضوعیتی ندارد؛ زیرا در عمل، این فرایند برای آن‌ها بسیار تلخ و پرهزینه بود.

۸. در این روش، توجه اصلی و تمرکز بر مجازات و انتقام‌جویی نیست. روح و شیرازۀ اصلی انوبنتو، توجه و التیام بخشیدن به اعتماد عمومی است که مورد تجاوز قرار گرفته است و باید شفا داده شود.

۹. راه بخشش و پرداخت غرامت، مسیر باریک و حساسی است که ملت ما آن را برگزید. عبور از گذشته‌ای نفرت‌آور و گام نهادن به آینده‌ای باافتخار، تنها از طریق پلی تاریخی میسر بود که قانون اساسی امکانش را در اختیار ما قرارداد؛

۱۰. اما این شهادت و موارد مشابه دیگر، من را از درون خسته و افسرده کرد و به این نتیجه رساند که چگونه یک انحراف، گمراهی و شرارت عمیق می‌تواند همۀ ما را با خود غرق کند و به پایین بکشد. در‌حقیقت به این نتیجه رسیدم که همۀ ما ظرفیت غیرقابل باور و غیرقابل تصوری برای تبدیل شدن به شیطان داریم.

۱۱. . به این نکتۀ مهم هم توجه داشته باشیم که تمام این جنایت‌ها و سوءاستفاده‌ها، به‌وسیلۀ آدم‌های عادی صورت می‌گیرد. آن‌هایی که چنین اقداماتی انجام می‌دهند، غیر از ما انسان‌های عادی، کس دیگری نیستند.

۱۲. درنهایت به این نتیجه رسیدم که عدالت واقعی اجرای حکم مجازات نیست، بخشش است.

۱۳. مذاکره برای کسی که بر مواضع خود استوار و محکم می‌ایستد، دشوار است. اما آن‌هایی که می‌خواهند به مصالحه برسند و در پایان مذاکرات، به‌عنوان فرد پیروز شناخته شوند، افرادی انعطاف‌پذیر هستند

۲۸ اردیبهشت ۱۴۰۱
حمیدرضا رعیتی
خوانش از طریق اپلیکیشن فیدیبو
351 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2013
Bishop Tutu is not a great writer. That's the only reason this book received four instead of five stars from me. In this book, Bishop Tutu tells the story of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission ofter Apartheid and during the first democratically elected government headed up by Nelson Mandela. I knew that the commission was hailed throughout the world as a new and promising effort to create a civil society out of what had been a barbaric system of oppression but I did not know how difficult was the struggle to create the commission and to operate it. Humans being people, there were still many in South Africa who were dedicated to the hateful attitudes and practices of oppression. Bishop Tutu does not condemn anyone in the book, he just tells about the struggle to make it happen. He certainly makes the case for restorative justice as opposed to retributive justice. He calls on the concept "ubuntu," which used to be a common idea until the enlightenment, which means that we all are all connected. So that whatever brings one of us down brings us all down and whatever brings one of us up brings us all up. The story is simple the concepts and the carrying out of truth and reconciliation is complex. Tutu makes the case for it.
Profile Image for Lulu .
171 reviews47 followers
July 13, 2015
Heartbreaking. So many times as I read this book, tears were flowing. I am glad that they took the path of Reconciliation and Truth as a Nation. There is no way you can heal if you do not confront your past
Profile Image for Tomy Wilkerson.
77 reviews2 followers
July 19, 2020
It was okay. I think South Africa's story is super important and there's a lot to be learned to how they handled justice. I went in looking for something in particular and it gave me some much-needed for thought. The book itself was just okay.
Profile Image for Diane Gabriel.
114 reviews13 followers
May 4, 2020
Right Under the bible in its importance. It is of incredibly magnitude of spiritual and social importance. I don’t know why this was not required reading in school? It should have been
Profile Image for Behnam.
19 reviews
April 2, 2018
اغلب از افراد مختلف ميشنيدم كه هر فرد موظف به دانستن تاريخ سياسي جهان يا حداقل تاريخ صده ي اخير مملكت خود، براي قضاوت و تصميم گيري صريح تر نسبت به رويدادهاي حال حاضر پيرامونشه؛ و خب هيچوقت فكر نميكردم خوندن كتابي با اين تفاسير اينقدر متفاوت از پيگيري تاريخِ نقل شده در ماهواره و تلوزيون و افراد و شخصيتهاي دور و بر باشه...
تصويرسازي صدمات وارده بر جسم و روحِ افراد به دليل تبعيض هاي نژادي و جنسيتي شايد كار چندان سختي به نظر نرسه، ولي حتي فكر كردن به بخششِ ظالمي با آن حجم از قساوت، كاريه كه حداقل از عهده ي من خارج بود!
تا به حال به اين فكر نكرده بودم كه ستمگر و ستمديده در جامعه اي كه ظلم بر اقشار مختلف در اون نهادينه شده به يك ميزان آسيب ميبينن و براي داشتن جامعه اي واحد و طي كردنِ مسيرِ صعب العبورِ استبداد به دموكراسي ، انتقام و اقدامات متقابل راهگشا نخواهد بود..!
بخشش كليد حل معماي زندگي، چه در بُعد فردي و چه در بُعد اجتماعي اون خواهد بود به شرط اينكه با تأمل و هوشمندي همراه باشه نه با حماقت...
ببخشيم امّا براي جلوگيري از تكرار تاريخ، فراموش نكنيم...
پي نوشت: اين كتاب توسط اسقف اعظم دزموند توتو برنده جايزه صلح نوبل در سال ١٩٨٤ كه رياست كميسيون صلح و آشتيِ آفريقاي جنوبي را به عهده داشت نوشته شده كه در آن فراز و فرودهاي روند تغييرات مسالمت آميز و برگزاري دادگاه هاي گذار از تبعيض و تحقير انسانيت به تساوي و احترام به حقوق بشر به تصوير كشيده شده و خوندنش رو به اشد وضع به تمام دوستان و آشناياني كه دغدغه وضعيت اجتماعي و فرهنگي و سياسيِ مملكت رو دارن توصيه ميكنم..
Profile Image for Joshua  Butler.
9 reviews17 followers
January 31, 2008
who could say anything bad about tutu, and sure enough the book was great. to be honest the first 5 chapters or so were more autobiographical than i was intending to get into but it was still really good to hear more of his personal voice, but i was really impacted by the later chapters when he recounts the specific details of the truth & reconciliation commission: the stories of people owning up to the atrocities they had committed and being embraced by the country (and often their victims) in forgiveness and embrace was extremely powerful. i was reminded how much i cannot believe the barbarity with which we can treat each other and the intimidating reality that that potential exists in my own heart as well--truly humbling. its also got me thinking if they can reconcile over that, what are so many of us doing squibbling over the silly little "sub-culture wars" that mark my portland turf. it makes me want to fight (ironic use of the word) for a church that encompasses both the punk & the soccer mom, the homeless & the CEO, the hippie and the government official, we really need to learn from each other and move forward.
Profile Image for Hadi Akbari.
35 reviews8 followers
February 10, 2020
راهی که آفریقای جنوبی برای گذر از سیستم اپارتاید طی می کند خواندنی و آموزنده‌ است. اینکه بدنه ی مردمی اینگونه میل به بخشش و آشتی پیدا می کنند و از رنج‌ها و دردهای تبعیض و نژادپرستی برای رسیدن به دموکراسی و ثبات می گذرند یک نشانه برای تمامی ملت هاست که راه خشونت انقلابی راه نهایی نباشد.
امروز که خشم فراگیر در ملت ایران نفوذ پیدا کرده و امروز که شاید خشممان از هر روز بیشتر است، خواندن تجربه ها و نگرش های فوق العاده افرادی مثل دزموند توتو و نلسون ماندلا و رهبران آفریقای جنوبی درس آموز و راهگشای برای رسیدن به دنیای جدید خواهد بود. اینکه فردی مثل نلسون ماندلا با وجود زندان های طولانی بر راه انتقام بی رحمانه از نژادپرستان و سفیدپوستان قدم نمی گذارد بی نظیر است.
دزموند توتو اسقف اعظم برنده جایزه صلح نوبل و رییس کمیسیون حقیقت و آشتی آفریقای جنوبی در این کتاب مختصر توضیحاتی درباره خود می دهد و سپس به دوران تغییرات سیستم اپارتاید و دوران بعد از آزادی نلسون ماندلا و شروع کار و مسیر و چگونگی عملکرد کمیسیون حقیقت و آشتی می پردازد و در فصول مختلف به نقل از قربانیان اپارتاید به ظلم های رفته بر مردم سیاه پوست می پردازد.
Profile Image for Michael Williams.
28 reviews3 followers
March 25, 2015
At first, I was hoping for more historical information and analysis, and maybe some details on the political and organizational dynamics. But when I reminded myself that this was a personal account of an amazing piece of history told by a giant of history, I could enjoy the privilege of hearing his shared reflections.
Profile Image for Joanna.
125 reviews9 followers
April 5, 2018
"Our nation sought to rehabilitate and affirm the dignity and personhood of those who for so long had been silenced, had been turned into anonymous, marginalized ones. Now they would be able to tell their stories, they would remember, and in remembering would be acknowledged to the persons with an inalienable personhood" (p. 30)

This is a powerful and truly inspiring book about resilience, forgiveness and humanity. Desmond Tutu is what I call a great man, a human being driven by (divine) love and the desire to contribute to universal peace and humanity despite facing atrocities.

This book sheds light on the dehumanizing system of apartheid and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that followed and sought to heal the country and its people from this cruel system that had no place for love, compassion, and Ubuntu. Archbishop Tutu reminds us of the power we hold within to do bad or good. He explains how people, when disconnected from their heart and human emotions, have the capacity to become evil, cruel and inhumane for power, conformity and money. Most importantly, Archbishop Tutu reveals and celebrates the extraordinary acts of forgiveness, courage and love humans are capable of doing.

There is no future without forgiveness, and forgiveness is a process that can only begin when the victim is heard and respected in her/his experience, and the wrongdoer can take responsability for his/her actions and genuinely ask for forgiveness. Furthermore, forgiveness is about naming and acknowledging the past for what it was and recognize its current impacts! As Bishop Tutu said, "True forgiveness deals with the past, all of the past, to make the future possible." (p.279). This book reminds me of continuously asking, "what are you doing to contribute to humanity?" If you’ve never asked yourself this question, now is the time. (less)
Profile Image for Kathy.
414 reviews
July 7, 2021
Our Sunday School class started reading this book over a year ago, but the COVID pandemic shut everything down, and our class has only recently started meeting again. The books well-known author, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, oversaw South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Its purpose was to develop a plan to come to terms with the atrocities that were committed by both sides during South Africa's many years of apartheid. While I am not sure I totally agree with the committee's approach of offering amnesty in exchange for a full confession of the atrocities that individuals committed, Tutu believed it was the only way that South Africa could move forward. Had we not read this book in our SS class, I never would have finished it, but I did learn much more about what happened in South Africa during apartheid. Some of the chapters which described numerous forms of murder and torture, were very difficult to read, and I honestly had to skip over some of the descriptions.
April 13, 2023
It’s rare when a book challenges and fundamentally changes my perspective on something, but Desmond Tutu’s impassioned arguments for forgiveness — even (and perhaps especially) in the face of the most horrific injustice — did exactly that. I’m so grateful to have read this book, and for my cousin Lauren who gave it to me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about apartheid; the rigors and rewards of restorative justice; or wants a new perspective on conflict, accountability, and forgiveness.
Profile Image for ☺Trish.
1,168 reviews
December 27, 2021
So difficult to read . . . Descriptions of horrific human rights violations and the atrocities committed in South Africa during the Apartheid regime - perpetrators applied for amnesty and victims gave testimony to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission of which Archbishop Desmond Tutu was Chairman.
Man's inhumanity to other human beings knows no bounds. So tragic . . .
Profile Image for Katie Mangum.
82 reviews1 follower
July 5, 2022
Deeply disturbing to read the detailed accounts of violence and dehumanization and to recognize the language/behavior of those who consistently incite these in societies around the world. An important read for considering the complexity of the South African TRC, its unquantifiable (albeit imperfect) impact, and the need to work for (even seemingly impossible) peace in other/all places.
287 reviews
November 17, 2020
Desmond Tutu is an adequate writer and an excellent Archbishop and it is for his reflections and leadership as Archbishop that this book earns 5 stars. I read this right before the election with a study group from my church. We read and discussed 2 chapters a week so it gave me plenty of time to digest the words and the message. The most important concept that remains with me from this book is the African concept of "Ubuntu." (That is from the Nguni group of languages. The Sotho languages refer to it as "botho").

There is no equivalent in English for Ubuntu. As described by Archbishop Tutu, it means that "my humanity is caught up and inextricably bound up in yours." In other words, "A person is a person through other persons." This is completely different from our more common concept of "I think therefore I am." Ubuntu means that "I am human because I belong. I participate. I share."

I absolutely love this interconnected concept of humanity as opposed to the individualistic one we so often embrace in America.

This concept of "Ubuntu" led to the many victims of Apartheid understanding, at a very basic level, that the person who tormented them and tortured then and killed their loved ones would absolutely need the victims when they realized that they had lost their humanity. The victims understood that they needed to help the aggressors because their humanity was intertwined with their own.

This was the foundation upon which the Truth and Reconciliation Committee was conceived and was why it succeeded.

I encourage everyone to read this book and take the lessons therein to heart - especially as we seek a way to unite this bitterly divided nation of ours.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
537 reviews3 followers
February 7, 2018
I rarely give 5 stars—only to books that made me deeply think and/or changed my worldview. This book made me think so much.
Profile Image for Margot Peter.
301 reviews8 followers
March 9, 2021
You cannot deny the past, but the future requires forgiveness.
Profile Image for Jacob Lines.
191 reviews2 followers
December 3, 2014
If you’re my age, you may remember Archbishop Desmond Tutu from the evening news. They would announce that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize and you would giggle over his name. And you giggled because he had a funny accent. But then you grew up and learned about what that “apartheid” word meant. I have recently read several books about South Africa and its amazing transition from apartheid to constitutional government. It is a turbulent and complicated but ultimately inspiring story. The mere fact that South Africans managed such a fundamental change without a full-fledged civil war is admirable enough. But the heroes of the story are almost superhuman in their capacity to forgive and move forward after so much hatred and torture and murder.

Archbishop Tutu was one of those that fought apartheid. He did so in his capacity as an Anglican clergyman. This book is his account of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a remarkable solution to the problem of what to do about all of the crimes committed by so many in support of and opposition to apartheid.

Instead of prosecuting past crimes (the Nuremburg model) or enacting a blanket amnesty (national amnesia), South Africa decided to establish the TRC. Victims and perpetrators alike would testify about what happened. Victims could receive reparations from the government. Perpetrators, if they were forthright about their crimes, could receive amnesty for their wrongs. The hope was that this approach would encourage people to tell their secrets so that the entire nation could process what had happened and learn from it and forgive. Sounds like a tall order.

Archbishop Tutu explains in this thoughtful and well-written book how the TRC worked and how well it did its job. He also offers beautiful and poignant insights into the human heart. How do victims of terrible crimes forgive? How did apparently decent people commit such horrible abuses? How can we reconcile the perpetrators and the victims and build a more just society? Archbishop Tutu approaches all of these questions with great wisdom and humility, speaking from his experiences as a black South African and as a pastor and follower of Jesus. The book is a gem. You will be richer for reading it.
Profile Image for Njabulo.
2 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2017

This is one book to give you HOPE for the future.
Profile Image for Elle.
89 reviews
August 15, 2009
In this moving account of the difficult decisions made and obstacles faced in the establishment and implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Tutu shares his vision of restorative justice based on the process he witnessed and participated in, and still does, to heal South Africa from apartheid. A great book--a vision of peace, hope and love--and an explanation of the rationale behind the process given for both skeptics and supporters. He does look critically at the process and the Commission, but gently, which fits his message and his tone.

The book inspired me, encouraging an exploration of restorative justice. contained much beauty and wisdom. He finishes his story, which he suggests is why people listen to his view without condemning him as ignorant or presumptuous (the Nobel Peace Prize helps too), with an appeal to those in other conflicts, whether in Northern Ireland, the Congos, Rwanda, Eastern Europe or the US, to acknowledge past and present oppression and violence, speak truth and make reparations, to break the cycle.

The US has its history of violence and oppression too, which many of us would like to forget, and which also need healing. It's interesting to note that the use of the word terrorist to describe any that opposed apartheid was one of the tools of oppression, justifying atrocities. As the US continues to detain "terrorists" without legal remedy or review in Guantanamo, and pursues its foreign policy of aggression, US citizens would be wise to engage in questioning and actively seeking to resolve the situation. Otherwise we risk joining the ranks of some many in oppressive regimes, who benefit from an unjust system, or believe that fear justifies human rights violations. We cannot claim we do not know, and that creates a responsibility to act.

I'm glad for the reminder of the interconnectedness of us all.
Profile Image for Mike.
167 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2016
Apartheid. Before I read this book, "apartheid" was only a word. It has now, in my mind, evolved into the most foul four-letter word in any language spoken by mankind. I had no idea what apartheid was all about, neither was I aware of the intense struggle that existed along racial lines in South Africa. Now I do - and I'm appalled!

This book is more than just interesting reading; it's more than a story of conflict between good and bad. "No Future Without Forgiveness" powerfully demonstrates the many evil faces of racism and the hurt to human society that racial strife produces. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is careful to point out that racism is almost always the result of conditioning, that people of every color, in every society throughout the world, can be -and have been - conditioned to thinking along racial lines.

Desmond Tutu's book is truly a book of the miraculous! When apartheid officially ended in 1994, and Blacks came into power, i.e. Nelson Mandela et al, everyone on earth expected a bloodbath to follow. Surely, in the name of justice, Blacks would rise up and violently exact vengeance upon their former torturers! To the wonder of the world, that didn't happen. Instead, the guilty were allowed to confess their evil deeds to their victims and ask forgiveness; the victims, in turn, offered that forgiveness, freeing themselves from their prison of the hatred that would ultimately destroy both them and their beloved country.

The depths of human depravity as well as mankind's awesome, mind-boggling ability to forgive, to love, and to move on, were clearly on display for the whole world to witness!

We can all learn from this powerful life lesson of forgiveness demonstrated by the amazing people of South Africa.

For all of us, there is truly "No Future Without Forgiveness," no matter what the terrible issue we have to work out in our own lives.
Profile Image for Heidi.
307 reviews23 followers
July 21, 2009
Hearing Archbishop Tutu speak in person at the 2006 World Council of Churches Assembly has to rank as one of the highlights of my life. He is an utterly remarkable man. And this book – this totally deserving of five stars book – tells a remarkable story.

Appointed by Nelson Mandela to be co-Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in South Africa following the transfer of power from the Nationalist Apartheid Government, Desmond Tutu writes in this book about the history leading to the Commission, the progress of the Commission itself, and his thoughts on forgiveness.

This is simultaneously an easy and a very difficult book to read. Tutu writes engagingly, and in a manner that keeps you reading. However, he also describes some horrific moments in the history of South Africa, and talks about horrific attitudes. I was reading this while at the National Assembly of the Uniting Church of Australia, where I was an elected member. At the Assembly we had a number of pieces of business relating to the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, which were highly emotional, and to which I tended to connect much of my thinking while reading this book. Although I tried to think about how what Tutu was writing about could be applied in the Australian context, the two contexts are so very different that I have so far found such thinking quite difficult.

However, I will certainly be pondering the contents of this book for some time to come.
Profile Image for Mel.
25 reviews
June 1, 2015
When I started this book (somewhat blindly) I thought that it was going to be more about forgiveness as a philosophy and act in a general sense. However, it turned out that this book is a very detailed history of the end of apartheid and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee's birth, trials, and outcomes. That said, it did not diminish my feeling about the book. It was a very insightful and teaching look into something I knew very little about. I came away with a greater understanding of the events and people involved in the history. It was also a very difficult read: not intellectually, but mentally and emotionally. It is (rightly so) very graphic at points, describing in detail the tortures and violence that took place during apartheid. This should not deter anyone from reading it though, as these things are part of life and death, and can provide intense lessons.
The end of the book did deal with forgiveness on a more general sense, and how what the TRC did can be an example for others. It was a nice summary. Tutu is a very eloquent and straightforward writer, there are no frills which means every word is terribly important and nothing is wasted.
This book is a great history lesson for everyone, and should be read by everyone if only to keep the important legacy and lessons of South Africa alive for generations to come.
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