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Tutu Says Media Misrepresent South African Tribal Violence

September 26, 1990

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Bishop Desmond Tutu said Wednesday that news reports misrepresent tribal violence in South Africa’s black townships when they focus on the ″black on black″ angle.

″The violence is mainly for political reasons over ideological political turf,″ the anti-apartheid activist said at Brown University, which presented him with an honorary degree.

″We’re no more divided than any other normal community,″ he said.

Tutu wondered aloud why the strife in Northern Ireland wasn’t characterized as ″white on white,″ as the ″black on black″ violence is in South Africa.

About 800 blacks have died since fighting began outside Johannesburg in early August between the African National Congress and Inkatha. Both organizations oppose apartheid, South Africa’s policy of racial separation, but differ on plans for the country’s future.

″This is the frustration of people who have been deprived for so many years,″ said Tutu, who won the Nobel Prize for peace in 1984 for his work against apartheid. ″The cost may be slightly higher than we thought.″

Tutu also questioned President F.W. de Klerk’s commitment to his stated goal of ″one man, one vote″ for South Africa. But he said de Klerk, who met with President Bush on Monday, ″must be given considerable credit for his courage″ in trying to move the country away from apartheid.

But Tutu said the world looks more to African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s spiritual leader.

He contrasted the adulation given Mandela when he visited the United States earlier this year with de Klerk’s lower-profile visit with Bush on Monday.

″It’s as different as chalk and cheese,″ he said.

Tutu also reiterated his call to Bush to retain economic sanctions against South Africa.

″It indicates whether you are on the side of the oppressed or the oppressor,″ he said.

The president has indicated he might lift the sanctions if the government releases political prisoners and lifts the state of emergency in black townships.

The bishop also said he had no qualms about accepting honors from Brown University, which has $635,000 invested in South Africa. Tutu has turned down similar honors from schools that had South African investments.

But Robert Reichley, Brown’s vice president of university relations, said Brown has reduced its investments from $33 million in 1984, and half of the remaining $635,000 is held by the school on behalf of others, including alumni.

Asked if that amount was significant, Tutu replied: ″I would think that would be debating how many angels dance on the point of a needle.″

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