On April 20, 1999, the NYU Annual Survey of American Law dedicated its 56th Volume to the president and vice president of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Alex Boraine. Speaking at the dedication were, among others, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, South African Ambassador to the U.S. Sheila Sisulu, and Rector of the Church of the Intercession, The Reverend Canon Frederick Williams.
Archbishop Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Prize for his fight against apartheid, and Dr. Boraine, currently a Professor in NYU’s Global Law School Program, pioneered the creation more than two years ago of South Africa’s TRC. The TRC, which has unearthed new revelations about the horrors of South African apartheid, recently released a truth-seeking five-volume report documenting assassinations, beatings, cover-ups and other abuses.
Biography of Dr. Alexander Boraine
Born in Cape Town in 1931, Dr. Alexander Lionel Boraine began his career as a minister in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in 1950. After being ordained and receiving his BA from Rhodes University in South Africa in 1956, Dr. Boraine served as a chaplain at the University of Natal and was later appointed General-Secretary of the Department of Education and Youth Ministry of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Dr. Boraine received his M.A. from Oxford in 1962 and his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies at Drew University Graduate School in the United States in 1966.
In 1970, Dr. Boraine was elected President of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. During this same time period, Dr. Boraine also served as a lecturer at the University of Natal, South Africa, teaching such courses as “The Conflict between Church and State in Nazi Germany” and “Law and Society in South Africa”, which examined the legal, societal and political consequences of the then existing racial laws.
Dr. Boraine went on, as an Employment Practices Consultant, to focus on training and improving working conditions for black South African workers. It was during this period that a movement began in South Africa that ultimately led to trade union rights, formerly the exclusive domain of whites, being extended to all workers.
Dr. Boraine was elected to the South African parliament in 1974, but resigned in 1986 and became the Executive Director of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, where he tried to bridge the gaps within South African society. In addition, Dr. Boraine conducted seminars — both internationally and throughout South Africa — on such issues as “The Politics of Oppression and the Politics of Negotiation in South Africa” and “The Theory and Practice of Democracy and the Rule of Law”.
Dr. Boraine is best known for his more recent work as Executive Director of the Institute for Justice in Transition, which had the objective of facilitating South Africa’s dealing with the history and effects of its apartheid years. He has organized numerous conferences, seminars and workshops, as well as proposing a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” The Commission was formed in 1995; Dr. Boraine currently serves as Vice Chairman. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission grants amnesty to persons who make a full disclosure of all the relevant facts related to politically motivated crimes committed during the apartheid era. The Commission has a secondary purpose of affording victims of apartheid era violence, both white and black, an opportunity to publicly relate the violations they suffered.
Dr. Boraine has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers, both in South Africa and abroad. Additionally, he is the co-editor of the books South Africa and the World Economy in the 1990’s, Dealing with the Past, and The Healing of a Nation.
Biography of Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, in 1931, the son of a schoolteacher and a domestic worker. Initially following his father’s career, he took a teacher’s diploma at the Pretoria Bantu Normal College and a B.A. at the University of South Africa. In 1958, following the introduction of Bantu education, he decided to enter the ministry in the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (Anglican) and became was ordained at St. Peter’s Theological College, Rosettenville.
He earned his Licentiate in Theology in 1960 and was ordained to the priesthood in Johannesburg in 1961. Shortly thereafter, he went to London for further study and received a Bachelor of Divinity Honours and a Master of Theology at Kings College, Cambridge. Returning to South Africa in 1967, he joined the staff of the Federal Theological Seminary in Alice and became chaplain at the University of Fort Hare. He moved to the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in 1970, where he held the post of lecturer in the Department of Theology. This position was followed by a second trip to England as Associate Director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches in Kent.
Archbishop Tutu returned to South Africa in 1975 as Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Johannesburg, but was soon elected Bishop of Lesotho. By this time, South Africa was in turmoil, and in the wake of the Soweto uprising of 1976, he took up the post of General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). It was while in this position, which he held from 1978-1985, that Archbishop Tutu became a national and international figure.
As General Secretary, Archbishop Tutu built the SACC into an important institution in South African spiritual and political life. Under his leadership, the SACC established an effective machinery for providing assistance to the victims of apartheid. Archbishop Tutu became heavily embroiled in controversy as he spoke out against the injustice of the apartheid system. For several years, he was denied a passport to travel abroad, but in 1982 the South African government withdrew this restriction in the face of national and international criticism. The name of Archbishop Tutu became synonymous with that of the SACC as he became the leader of the crusade for justice and racial conciliation in South Africa. In 1984, Archbishop Tutu’s contributions to the cause of racial justice in South Africa was recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize.
Archbishop Tutu was elected Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985, Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986, and President of the All African Conference of Churches and Fellow of Kings College in 1987. Before the legalization of the African National Congress and other political organizations in 1990, many critics of Archbishop Tutu predicted that he would enter political life. Instead, the Archbishop has become a principal mediator and conciliator in this difficult period of South African history. In December 1995, South African President Nelson Mandela appointed Archbishop Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Archbishop Tutu retired from the office of Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 and was shortly thereafter named Archbishop Emeritus. He regularly appeals to the parties in the Government of National Unity for peaceful cooperation in South Africa and an end to violence and corruption.
Archbishop Tutu is the author of five collections of sermons and writings: Crying in the Wilderness (1982), Hope and Suffering: Sermons and Speeches (1983), The Words of Desmond Tutu (1989), The Rainbow People of God (1994), and The Essential Desmond Tutu (1997).