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Q&A | the Rev. Mpho A. Tutu

Rev. Mpho Tutu says working with her famous father Desmond Tutu was easy

As part of its Plight and Promise of Africa Initiative, Eckerd College will host the Rev. Mpho A. Tutu at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Fox Hall.

Tutu, 46, is an Episcopal priest who was ordained by her father, Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, in 2004. She also is founder and executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer & Pilgrimage based in Alexandria, Va.

This year, father and daughter released the inspirational book Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All the Difference. The collaborative effort discusses their faith-based belief in the goodness of human nature. We caught up with the author last week by phone from her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, journalist Joseph Burris, and their two daughters, Nyaniso, 14, and Onalenna, 4.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (727) 867-1166.

When you agreed to write a book with your father, did you expect that you'd rely more on your experiences growing up in Africa or did you expect your life here in the United States would come into play?

I think first we wanted to approach it more on a worldwide level. At least, I think that's the case. But, it is true, I do live here in the U.S., and I hear the current issues and the manner in which they are discussed on the American airwaves. So the true answer is even though it is not overt, speaking back to some of what I have heard promulgated in American Christianity, the book holds my experiences of where I live now. This is what I am seeing now. And this is shaping and forming me.

When you two wrote the book, how did you share the workload?

Initially the plan was that he would think and I would write, and that shifted a little in the process of writing. We had conversations in what we wanted to say, and I'd be the one to transcribe the conversations. We went back and forth with the writing after that, but for the most part, I'd do the first draft, and he'd do changes and edits.

Was it a difficult process?

He was in South Africa for much of the time, but it was actually an easy process. At first, we spent time in person discussing it, and then once we were in the midst of it, we'd work things out by e-mail or Skype so that by the time stuff ended up on the page we were in agreement on everything. We did send many edits back and forth, though. I don't know how writers collaborated before e-mail.

When you told your father that you wanted to be ordained, was he surprised?

I don't know if he was surprised, but it wasn't something he had ever broached or approached with me. Certainly, he was happy. People who know him now tell me how happy and proud he was when I did this.

I understand you made an appearance Nov. 9 at the National Press Club Book Fair in Washington, D.C. How'd it go?

I felt quite happy with it. We sold out of books, and that was very cool. I didn't get much of a chance to walk around much, but one of the things that was interesting to me was that it tended to be more of an affluent book-buying public. It was interesting to see a) How few people of color were there both as authors and buyers and b) It made me think about how old both the writing and the reading public is. So, I was interested in how little diversity there was, but again, maybe the younger, more diverse readers and writers are getting information through other mediums.

Rev. Mpho Tutu says working with her famous father Desmond Tutu was easy 11/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 12:17pm]
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