South Africa: The Arch’s Unwavering Moral Force and Humanity Will Always Endure As My Guiding Force

Jeff Kelly Lowenstein is the executive director of the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism (CCIJ) and the Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse at Grand Valley State University.

As a pulpy college student, a young man and a middle-aged father and husband, my resolve to help heal our world is fortified by the example of Desmond Tutu.

I first saw Desmond Tutu as a Stanford junior in January 1986. His soaring voice and rolling Rs as he decried the evils of apartheid nudged me to get off the sidelines and into the freedom struggle.

After joining the campus anti-apartheid movement that fall, I rose for an early-morning jog with then-president Donald Kennedy during which I debated the merits of the university’s divesting from companies that did business in South Africa. The student newspaper published a column I wrote describing our exchange. Inspired by Tutu’s address, these experiences stirred in me a dream that I might one day visit Alan Paton’s beloved country.

That vision came true in 1995, when I taught for a year at one of South Africa’s first multiracial private schools. It was a heady time. Galvanised by President Nelson Mandela’s donning a green Springbok jersey, South Africa…

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