RAY SUAREZ: We start with some background on this crusader against apartheid in South Africa, including a reprise of several of his appearances on this program.
CHAIRMAN: I call upon you, Desmond Tutu.
RAY SUAREZ: In 1984, then Bishop Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against apartheid, the white minority rule of South Africa. The decision provoked controversy in South Africa, but Tutu told the NewsHour that it showed the world cared about his country's black majority.
DESMOND TUTU: (10/16/84) It is saying that the world cares about oppression and injustice, and it is saying to our people -- and this is their prize -- don't give up. Don't give up the struggle. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
RAY SUAREZ: But the white minority government was holding firm. It resisted the pressure from the outside world to loosen the grip of apartheid. The bishop spoke of his role in the struggle.
DESMOND TUTU: (8/15/85) I am not somebody with a political ambition at all. And I am speaking really as a church leader who has the best interest of our land at heart. I love this country passionately, and I am saying actually that, I mean, it is surprising that our people should still be prepared to accept me as a leader when I have nothing to show for my advocacy of peaceful change. All that has happened is that there has been an escalation in the violence of the authorities, their intransigence and their arrogance.
RAY SUAREZ: In 1988, and now archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu expressed his frustration with the slow pace of reform and was asked if it was possible...at long last...to condone violent resistance.
DESMOND TUTU: (4/29/88) And many people try to make out that we condone and even encourage violence, whereas we've said times without number we oppose all violence, which is the position of the church, the violence of an unjust system and the violence of those who seek to overthrow it.
RAY SUAREZ: Less than two years later, Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. Then in 1994, in their first free, multi-racial elections, South Africans voted for a black majority government. Mandela became president. In 1995, the South African government tapped Archbishop Tutu to lead the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, investigating atrocities committed on all sides during the apartheid years. A report on the commission's findings released last year called the white government the primary perpetrator of human rights violations, although it criticized other institutions as well.
RAY SUAREZ: Archbishop Tutu joins us now. He's just written a memoir of his work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called No Future Without Forgiveness.
Welcome to the program.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: Thank you very much.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, some time has been able to pass since the final report has been submitted to the president.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: Yes.
RAY SUAREZ: We've had a chance to see whether the country now moves on to that next step. There's been a peaceful transition of power, another election. How is the document aging?
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: I think that we have not done too badly. You know, when you look at some of what is happening, say, in Russia and other places of turmoil, that South Africa has had exceedingly peaceful period of stability. It's five years since our first historic elections, and by rights -- I mean, you know --the black majority who have been deprived and are still in many ways deprived have not yet shown an impatience with the slow rate at which things are changing for them. They are changing, but not as quickly as they should.
RAY SUAREZ: There will come a time, I'm going to guess, that if you're 17, 18, a brand new school leader with the legacy of not the best of education, there's hangover from the old system, that things that happened like the release of Nelson Mandela - half your lifetime ago - aren't really going to matter that much. All you'll see is the present landscape that still doesn't hold a lot of promise for you.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: I think that that is probably how things might pan out. And yet, you know, Nelson Mandela is now a colossus that's driving not just South Africa but the whole universe really, certainly our globe, and only the most insensitive souls would not know about that particular legacy. I would want to point out that our commission's report underscored the importance of a physical transformation, of changing the quality of life of the most deprived, and we have said that unless the gap between the rich and the poor, which is very wide, is narrowed, then you could just as well kiss reconciliation goodbye, and, therefore, we are urging those who have -- for their own sakes -- to be eager to participate and drive on the process of transformation in South Africa.
RAY SUAREZ: Because you had no shortage of critics on both sides of the question, people who wanted the post apartheid era to be one of harsh retribution.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: Yes.
RAY SUAREZ: Of people who wanted to just put the past in a box and bury it somewhere, and it seems to me that if you don't capitalize on a moment that's created -- there was a lot of goodwill created, a lot of healing accomplished -- but isn't there a finite moment of time where you have to capitalize on it.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: Well, I think that is precisely the point, and that is why in my address to the National Press Club I have suggested the U.S. government does with South Africa what it is doing with Israel and with Egypt. I mean, every year, there is - about $3 and a half billion that goes to Israel, because Israel is important for the world, for the United States, but I am saying South Africa is equally important, that here is an experiment in race relations where people in the past were at each other's throats are now seeking to heal and live amicably. I've made a suggestion that we be given something in the order of $2 billion for the next five years, which would assist in the process of the transformation that you and I have been speaking about and which I agree is quite, quite crucial.
RAY SUAREZ: You mentioned in the title of your book No Future Without Forgiveness, but I'm wondering how real the forgiveness has to be, whether you can't just as well also have people who are willing to compose themselves, willing to get on with the daily business of living, perhaps still holding on to hard heartedness inside, but having made a winking agreement to live together on the same street, do business together in the shops, take up the same space.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: The point is actually - I mean, that you are speaking about. maybe. very, very sophisticated and possibly people who can try to do that sort of thing you are talking about.
But you know we are talking about so-called ordinary people who have suffered grievously, who have committed themselves to this way because they believe deep down in their very being that this is the best course, but then of course we've also had incredible examples of a Nelson Mandela. And you couldn't possibly say that what he has been doing is "wink, wink, we are not really forgiving you." So, I mean, why does the world almost go gaga over him? It is that here is an extraordinary icon of magnanimity, of forgiveness and reconciliation. It's the real McCoy, you know? -- it's that -
And for black people, they - the moontu [ph?] is the essence of being human. I am human because you are human. My humanity is caught up in yours and if you are dehumanized, I am dehumanized, and anger and resentment and retribution are corrosive of this great good, the harmony that has got to exist between people. And that is why our people have been committed to the reconciliation where we use restorative rather than retributive justice, which is a kind of justice, that says - we are looking to the healing of relationships, we are seeking to open wounds, yes, but to open them so that we can cleanse them and they don't fester; we cleanse them and then pour oil on them, and then we can move into the glorious future that God is opening up for us.
RAY SUAREZ: When you look at the arguments that are still going on today in Argentina, of the tug of war over Augusto Pinochet in Chile, are you more convinced than ever that this was the way to go, that there are no Pinochets in your future?
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: We were quite clear that we wouldn't have had general amnesty, which is what happened in Chile, and which is why it is right that the world should have stepped in and said we cannot encourage impunity. See, in our country we think you get amnesty only when you have acknowledged, admitted your guilt; you accept responsibility and accountability for the things that you have done, and you satisfy the conditions that are laid down, made a full disclosure, let it be something that is politically motivated. Then you will get your amnesty. And the world is satisfied that South Africa took very seriously - the - the effect of gross violations of human rights and has not just sat back and said we don't do anything about it.
RAY SUAREZ: On a more personal note, I noticed you're wearing your red ribbon on your lapel; it's certainly no secret to many who have been following your recent life, that you've been getting treatment for cancer. How's that been going?
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: Well, I - I had treatment at Sloan Kettering two years ago, radiation, and the disease went into remission. At the present time I'm having tests again because the PSA is elevated a bit. But I am doing fine, and people are just wonderful, and I say sometimes that I have so many prayers that God said, well, I think the best way of handling this is I believe I'm going to get rid of all these prayers for him, let me get him well. (laughter)
RAY SUAREZ: It's great to see you again.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: Thank you very much. God bless you.