We need a Tutu here too

8 Oct, '06

Bishop Desmond TutuI was watching a program on Bishop Desmond Tutu last night on BBC World, and couldn’t help thinking once again that we are in desperate need of a person of his commitment and stature to lead us out of this dark and tiresome tunnel of sectarianism and past injustices in order to welcome the future with open arms as one nation.

I have immense respect for Bishop Desmond Tutu for tirelessly working toward real social justice, for championing the poor, for uniting his country, and for being a catalyst for good to permeate within his society. I hold the same respect for other giants of his ilk like Mandela, and closer to home, the hundreds of people who have and continue to tirelessly and selflessly work for the better of this tiny country.

One thing that Tutu said in the interview really struck home with me: he simply said that there is no way for the oppressed to become free without the oppressor becoming free too!

We tend to forget about that and invariably just think of a single side to a story: we were oppressed, so let’s get revenge. We were the oppressed, so it’s our turn to rule. We were the oppressed, so we need to punish those who oppressed us.

Alas, listening to and learning from Bishop Tutu, this vicious cycle is really not the way because at best it is a very short lived solution. We need to move forward and the only real way of doing so is to reconcile our differences, forgive and not seek retribution. We need to create a truth and reconciliation commission much like Bishop Tutu’s, and be prepared to listen to the victims, get a clear and unambiguous apology from their oppressors, and let them go free. Let us seek true forgiveness in order for this country to move forward, because we have to be one nation, one heart, one mind and one love, because the alternative is just too painful to contemplate. We must achieve and perpetuate social justice in our society and never allow that platform to drift away from this ideal.

We need not go far from our shores to find our very own Desmond Tutu to help us through the path ahead because we have our own giants living amongst us; giants like Abdulrahman Al-Noami, Isa Al-Jawdar, Abdullatif Al-Mahmood, Ibrahim Sharif, Ali Salman, Hassan Madan, Rasool Al-Jishi, Abdulwahab Hussain, Hassan Mushaim’i, Isa Qassim amongst others who have proven their mettle and have struggled for social justice. These people are the backbone of the dignity of the human race, their names will forever be written in rich indelible ink in history and their communities’ collective memories and any one of them would be more than capable and welcome to preside over a truth and reconciliation panel to hold the hand of the nation and guide it into a better more hopeful future.

In my humble opinion, Isa Al-Jawdar could easily be the Bahraini Tutu. From what I know and read about him, Shaikh Al-Jawdar is an honourable person who enjoys immense respect throughout Bahraini society; therefore, him chairing a truth and reconciliation commission could be a lead to get us out of the impasse we find ourselves in.

All this because of what Bishop Tutu has said is absolutely true: we can only be free if we are free together, oppressed and oppressor, shia and sunna, Bahrainis regardless of personal faith; we can only be safe and secure together, we can only be prosperous together, and we can only be happy together. Continuing the divisive sectarian way of thinking will only lead to the destruction of the whole country and there will be no winner; both sects, everyone, will just be losers.

We must realise that to win a peaceful and honourable existence we must unite, we must be one hand, we must look after each other regardless of our own personal religious affiliation and in-spite of ambitious agitators.

It is time that we thought of reconciling our differences and try to remove that dividing line between us; let us all work to be One Bahrain, and let us only think of ourselves as Just Bahraini.

I realise that this is an extremely hard and onerous task; but don’t you think that unity is a worthy prize?

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Comments (12)

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  1. a Duoist says:

    Please excuse my confusion, but not too long ago this very blog from Bahrain triumphantly proclaimed, ‘We are all Hizbollah!’ How does such a proud proclmation of militant unity made just a few weeks ago now reconcile itself with its new call for Archbishop Tutu-like unity on behalf of love and sectarian peace?

    Some consider a self-contradiction to be a sign of…well, fill in the blank.

    ‘Be free,’ Mahmood.

  2. mahmood says:

    Not at all.

    If you would re-read the previous article you would understand that my proclamation is really the same: uniting under a single banner to reach a solid platform of social justice.

    If you want to discuss anything else regarding Hizbullah/Israel/US and Islam, please do so on the appropriate topic.

  3. tooners says:

    Unity is a worthy prize, but how many are willing to strive for such?

    So many ppl seem to be all about going against the other side, creating problems, telling lies, yada yada yada.

    You are a good person and there are many good ppl out there. Hopefully, one day, the good will outweigh the bad.

  4. K from Oslo says:

    Tooners, I have to disagree with you. Far to often do I read comments along the line of “I hope the good people will otnumber the bad.” I firmly believe the good do outnumber the bad but too often we alow ourselves to drift along and become apathetic. We give up and give in, as long as our own lives are unaffected. But a true democracy has little to do with the leaders of a country nor the political system in place, a true democracy is about a people who are actively involved in the political and social process of their country, in any way they can. And you who live in Bahrain CAN do something. Make your unitarian opinion be heard, wheather by using Mahmoods banner or just making your opinion heard. Let people know that you support a united Bahrain and hopefully you will find that there are many more who support this view too

  5. Ash says:

    Bishop Tutu’s sentiment is a beautiful one but sadly I don’t think it’s realistic, as the rapidly worsening problems in his native South Africa demonstrate. Far more often than not, oppressors have to be thoroughly defeated before the oppressed can become free and that defeat is usually a long and bloody one unless the oppressor is already, for whatever reasons (often external ones), in a weak position.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Does reconciliation really need to have political leaders involved – especially given that the most successful politicians seem to have got where they are by explicitly exploiting sectarianism.

    Most pople recognise that sectarianism is a ‘bad thing’; but the question is how to utilise this consensus – how to prize apart the contradiction that people view sectarianism as a negative, yet support politicians which represent one sect or other?

    In most countries the way to by-pass politicians (and clerics) in order to reach their constituents is through public debate led by intellectuals – and while academics (with the exception of Munira Fakhro and some others) don’t seem to play much of a part in Bahraini politics, journalists and commentators who aren’t of the bought-and-sold variety can at least help set the terms of debate.

    Having a charismatic spokesman in the mould of Tutu would help massively, but sadly they’re few and far between. I don’t really see any short term way to address the problem except for people of goodwill to come together and tell those seeking to further sectarianism to politely fuck off in all circumstances.

  7. Anonymous says:

    From where the reconciliation starts! is it from the top of the pyramid or from the bottom! is if from suppressed or from those who have the power and being suppressor. Romanticizing concepts may not always be the best way to go forward.

    Reconciliation needs two partners that recognise each others existance. In the case of Bahrain, the ruling family reconises that its the peoples rule to surrender. I doubt they do think that the people do exist. One question, did the ruling family inclluding the king and the prime minster meet with the people you mentioned at any crisis. The meet with them when they feel like it, and only they want to be listened to.

    The stoneage of governing is way over. The ruling family need to change otherwise there place will change. This is what we learnt from the many revoltions throughout the history including the French revolution and the Americans as well, let a side what happened to Sadam and his followers.

    I wish the ruling family wake up before it is too late.

    reconciliation YES, but with justice. How many reconciliations do we need, if there is no justice.

    The ruling family need to recognise the bahrainis, and stop recruiting “psudo-bahrainis”, as we do not want a psudo-kingdom, as it stands right now…

    good day to you all

  8. Munther says:

    Hello Mahmood..

    Although I come from the Sunni sect I’ve always thought of myself as Bahraini and not a Sunni, That’s the way it should be full stop ! I believe that sects are just merely a “preference” which should stay at its proper place (Mosques). We out of all people should not drop to the low levels of sectarianism, especially after what happened in the mid 90s ! We as Bahrainis should stand as ONE and remember that sectarianism was planted amongst us ! I don’t need to mention ’em 😉

  9. Munther says:

    I don’t need to mention ‘em 😉

    I meant I don’t need to mention by whom ! :P:X

  10. Malcolm Coghill says:

    South Africa has become free, as the former opressors are free as well as the oppressed.
    Reconcilliation will make South Africa a truly great country, possibly the greatest country in Africa just so long as corruption is not allowed to prosper, as it has in many African countries that would now be economic powerhouses, but thier rulers has fallen prey to personal greed.

  11. Fatman says:

    It seems like, for the most part, the history of social revolutions is simply a cycle of overcompensation.

    >>I wish the ruling family wake up before it is too late.

    If only they had enough sense to realize that they’re lighting a fire that’ll first destroy them before anyone else.

    Didn’t that ever-so-honorable Abbasid ruler who brought his Turkish friends to power ultimately die by their swords? The way things look now, so too shall happen in our tiny nation.

    I just hope that I’ll be alive on that sunny day that we all go to the polls to elect a prime minister.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Tutu is a real man of God not one of the maggots that seem to be crawling out of the fruitcake lately.

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