1999 Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture: The Role of Religion in African Renaissance- Catholic Archbishop of Bloemfontein and President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, South African Chapter.
16th Annual Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture: The Religious Role in Reconstruction - Chief Rabbi C.K.Harris (Cheif Rabbi of the Union of the Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa
2009 Annual Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture


When Archbishop Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, WCRP-SA (of which he is a founder member and patron) decided to honour him by instituting an annual lecture bearing his name. He graciously accepted this suggestion and has continued to give hearty support to this venture.

Archbishop Tutu has repeatedly stated that people of religion are under obligation never to remain silent in the face of injustice, oppression, suffering and poverty. We therefore find it appropriate that an interfaith organisation like ours should promote and host the Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture.

The actual purpose of this lecture is two-fold. First, to acknowledge the contribution of all those who have supported the struggle for  liberation in South Africa through peaceful means, and secondly to promote understanding and co-operation in a multi-faith democratic South Africa, emphasising that all the religious traditions represented in South Africa subscribe to liberation, justice, peace and harmony.

Since its institution, the lecture has been delivered by prominent religious leaders from different traditions, these include, His Holiness The Dalai Lama; Dr Emilio Castro; Ms Ela Gandhi; Dr Franz Auerbach; and Prof. Ali Mazrui. In 1994 in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the lecture, Desmond Tutu delivered the lecture and President Nelson R Mandela provided the response.

The inaugural Peace Lecture was scheduled to be held in Soweto, Gauteng Province, September 14th, 1985. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was to have spoken on the subject, "The Religious Understanding of Peace". The Lecture however was placed under a Banning Order by the then Apartheid Regime and did not take place.  Against the background of State violence, Archbishop Tutu described his vision and dream for the future,

"The wonderful day will dawn when Black and White will walk tall into the future, the glorious future when we will have a new South Africa where all will count, Black and white together, not because of a biological irrelevance, the colour of our skin, but because all Blacks and Whites together are of infinite value because they are created in the image of God. In that day Black and White will work together for a new society, totally non-racial, with democracy and justice. Freedom, justice and peace are indivisible."

Later published, the lecture has an appended response by the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Cyril Harris. It is therefore most apposite that this year we are honoured that the Chief Rabbi Harris has kindly agreed to address us  on the subject "The Religious Role in Reconstruction".

An ardent opponent of the policy of apartheid, and the iniquities of racial discrimination, the Chief Rabbi has played an important role in the reconstruction and transformation  of a new South Africa. He has also been a prominent proponent for the need of white South Africans to remain and participate in the challenges that all South Africans face. 

A Scot by birth, Rabbi Harris was born and initially schooled in Glasgow  in 1936, later attending the University of London where he obtained a B.A. (Hons) degree in Hebrew and Aramaic. He was later awarded the M.Phil degree in Talmudic and Hebrew Medieval Languages and Literature. Receiving both the Minister's Diploma and Rabbinical Diploma at Jews' College London Rabbi Harris served three of the largest Synagogues in London, Kenton (1958-71); Edgware (1975-79) and St John's Wood (1979-87). In 1988 he was appointed the Chief Rabbi of the Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa, and presides on a number of important Rabbinical and Jewish Boards. Amongst his many other responsibilities Rabbi Harris is a trustee of the Job Creation Trust and the Cape Town Holocaust Centre. He is married to Ann and has two sons and three granddaughters, their son Michael serving as a Rabbi in London. Rabbi Harris is a fanatical follower of the great game (Cricket, not Rugby!!), and is a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, London. By his own admission, he plays a fairly good game of chess and a rather poor game of golf!

2009 Annual Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture

Ten honourees were honoured in the Scroll of Honour at the Annual Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture held on the 13th October 2009, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of WCRP South Africa.

Click here to view Scroll of Honour (2009).




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