(Updated) Saying that Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has “taken people’s identity” and “cut it to pieces,” the Most Rev. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has cut up his dog collar and said he will not replace it until Mugabe is out of office.
Dr John Sentamu made the symbolic protest gesture live on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has boycotted an EU-Africa summit taking place in Portugal because of Mr Mugabe’s presence. The BBC says that while Mr Mugabe is banned from the EU, African leaders demanded the Zimbabwean leader be invited to attend the event in Portugal.
In the interview on the Andrew Marr Show, the Archbishop had this exchange:
ANDREW MARR: So what in concrete terms should be happening now? We’ve had this, this sort of dialogue of the deaf as you called it, Angela Merkel’s said her thing, but what should actually be happening now to get Mugabe out?
DR JOHN SENTAMU: We need the world to unite against Mugabe really and his regime.
Why, what I don’t understand – they did it against Ian Smith, the world did it against apartheid South Africa.
Two black leaders are actually carrying out quite a lot of killing, very bad management, you know. Zimbabwe one time was a bread basket, has now become a basket, a basket case itself.
I can’t understand why the same pressure on sanctions doesn’t apply. You see when Mugabe says the economy has gone down simply because of what the West has done to his – no.
The sanctions are purely on travel and financial assistance to a hundred and thirty of his clique. That’s all it is. And Britain also is the second largest donor of humanitarian aid.
So when he talks about because of this has happened – no. He’s actually taken a country really into sheer chaos. And has been so brutal that in the long run the world has got to say if the South African people won’t do it and the leaders of Africa have actually become sycophantic hero worshipers, something has got to happen.
DR JOHN SENTAMU: I suspect, because you see his, his card is, we are negotiating for the elections next year. But you and I know that those re-elections, whatever happens, are going to be rigged like they’ve been since Mugabe came to power. So South Africa’s got to actually wake up to the fact that people there are starving. A lot of people are traumatised.
You know … you see as an Anglican, this is what I wear to identify myself that I’m a clergyman. Do you know what Mugabe has done? He’s taken people’s identity and literally if you don’t mind, cut it to pieces. This is what he’s actually done, to a lot of – and in the end there’s nothing. So as far as I’m concerned from now on I’m not going to wear a dog collar until Mugabe’s gone.
Sentamu chastised African leaders for defending Mugabe and insisting on his presence at the EU-Africa summit:
People don’t know where their next meals are going to come from. But of course Mugabe and his clique are living … wonderfully.
I’ve said yes to the prime minister, I don’t understand why Britain doesn’t have an intra-section instead of having an embassy. Why all the world don’t do the same thing what they did to Libya at one point. Is it because this happens to be a black person? Because what is going on for me, there is this pernicious, self destructing racism. A white man does it the whole world cries. A black person does it, there is a certain sense oh this is colonialism. I’m sorry I don’t buy this. Africa and all the world have got to liberate Africa from this mental slavery and this colonial mentality – whenever there’s anything you blame somebody else instead of yourself.
While the Archbishop does not expect other clergy to take scissors to their own dog collars, he does call for Christians to take action against the injustices of the Mugabe regime:
I think what I want to say is what happened to, during the time of Ian Smith in this country and apartheid South Africa. We prayed. We marched, protested. We collected money. As Christmas comes around spare a pound, spare a pound for child starving in Darfur and in Zimbabwe.
Let this money be collected so that when a time comes people can actually have their houses and their homes rebuilt. And to me that’s the greatest thing we can actually do as a nation.
Dave Walker over at The Cartoon Blog says: “I for one applaud the Archbishop. May his example inspire us all to stand up to injustice in our various ways.”
Read: BBC- Archbishop makes Zimbabwe protest.
Here is the transcript of the interview.
Dave Walker’s The Cartoon Church on this story.
The Diocese of York put out this news release.
(New) The Guardian has this item.