Open letter to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Dear Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
I hope that you are on the mend and congratulations to you and your wife on the recent renewal of your wedding vows.
I write to you with the greatest admiration and respect for you. You are a person of courage, wisdom, insight and humility. You truly believe that South Africa is the rainbow nation (having coined the phrase originally) and have so often been the country’s moral compass.
The reason for my letter is to request that you reconsider your position as patron of South Africa’s National Braai Day (or Braai4Heritage Day), held on the Heritage Day public holiday each year (24 September). I know that you are a patron with the best intentions at heart but as a person who extols the virtues of peace, supporting a day which has cruelty to animals as a foundation, is in conflict with the notion of peace.
I would like to think I am a spiritual person as opposed to a religious person. Respect and kindness should be two values which form part of any spiritual path. We should not differentiate between animals worthy of being treated with respect and those that are not. We are all part of this earth. You have said that the public holiday should be one of unity and common culture. I fear that it is a day of dividing: it divides along lines of gender stereotypes with men braaing outside and women in the kitchen making salads; it divides along different peoples’ ideas of heritage and history; it divides humans from non-human animals, with the former reigning supreme. Who benefits from the day? It can only be the cattle farmers, abattoirs, butchers and supermarkets.
Public holidays provide us with an opportunity for reflection and time to pause, as is the case with Heritage Day. Even if one does not know the rationale behind Heritage Day or agree with its origins, making the day in which the cruelty of animals, as food for human consumption and greed, is celebrated, clearly does not send the right message. There can only be peace and unity in the world if all its forms of life are respected and treated with care, kindness and compassion. Your friend, the Dalai Lama, talks about warm-heartedness in all our dealings as humans. Surely this must encompass all that is on earth. I thus humbly ask that you be the moral compass and resign from your position as patron of National Braai Day.