Last week I walked to an empty table in the dining room to eat breakfast. At the table next to the one I was aiming for was Desmond Tutu, all by himself. I have mentioned that the Nobel Peace Prize winner ("call me Arch") is sailing with us as far as Capetown. I was afraid he was meeting someone else for breakfast so did not accost him. Soon other teachers and students came up to him asking if they could sit at his table and he graciously agreed. Opportunity lost!
Yesterday he did a question/answer session for the international management class and I attended. He is a very gentle man, short, round, and bald. I have only ever seen him wear black t-shirts and black pants which I suppose makes an excellent travel wardrobe because it doesn't show dirt and always matches. He seems to always be smiling, but I did not know until that class that he has a wicked giggle and a crazy cackle. The students posed questions:
About apartheid: "We would never have won without the support we had from around the world. Almost in every country there was a branch of the anti-apartheid movement. I was the only one who could move around. Most of our leaders were in jail or exiled."
His most memorable moment: the inauguration of Nelson Mandela to the presidency of South Africa. "The planes were roaring overhead and I felt like raising my fist and saying, 'They're ours!" instead of feeling oppression.
Visiting the White House: "The Nobel Peace Prize opened doors that were previously locked." He tried many times to get an appointment with Ronald Reagan and was always refused. "It seemed like the minute I got the Nobel Peace Prize I was assured that the President would be very happy to see me."
On what it takes to get a Nobel Peace Prize: "You need an easy name, like Tutu, and you need sexy legs." "Everyone in this room has the potential to get a Nobel Prize," maybe not for peace but for medicine or something else. He encouraged the students to reach for their best effort.
He quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. 'Unless we learn to live together as brothers and sisters, we are going to perish together like fools."
The next morning I walked out of immigration to the cruise ship terminal and noticed an empty seat next to Desmond Tutu. I took the initiative, sat down, and asked him what he had planned for the day. He is going to catch up on his internet correspondence, since the ship's internet is blocked in Japan. We conversed for a couple of minutes and I got up to go. He smiled and said, "Bless you." So I have been blessed by the best. Maybe next time I will get a picture.