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Nigerian Violence Escalates; Archbishop Tutu Discusses Goodness of Humans

Aired March 10, 2010 - 15:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a massacre in Nigeria stuns Africa, but we ask, can any good emerge from this evil? Two of Africa's Nobel Prize laureates will join us.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the program.

Tonight, Nigeria is on edge after at least 200 villagers were slaughtered in the center of the country. Some accounts put the death toll even higher, some even lower. And police today put dozens of suspects and their weapons on display three days after that massacre near the city of Jos.

On Sunday, a mob armed with guns, knives and machetes had swept through Christian villages, killing and burning. And as mourners buried the dead, they blamed Islamic herdsmen for the attacks; 150 Muslim villagers had been killed in the same area back in January.

Acting Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck has appealed for calm, and he's fired his national security adviser. But many are saying there is now a power struggle at the heart of the Nigerian government. We'll speak to the former Nigerian president and to the country's Nobel laureate about these dangerous days.

And later, we try to square this explosion of violence in our conversation with another Nobel laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who asserts in his new book that people are "Made for Goodness."

But first to Nigeria, where hundreds of protestors today demanded government action to fight corruption and unemployment. CNN's Christian Purefoy is there, and he joins us from the capital, Abuja.

Christian, describe for us what you saw on the streets today.

CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christiane, today tension really did boil over in the capital of Nigeria, the seat of power here. Thousands of protestors took to the streets ostensibly because of the missing president, but also, as you mentioned, other problems, like power, electricity, employment, and they wanted to take their demands both to the presidential villa and to the house of assembly, Christiane.

But at both times, they were refused entry, and there was a lot of tension, Christiane, between the protestors and the police -- Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Christian -- and we must mention, of course, there is a satellite delay all the way to Abuja in Nigeria -- but let me ask you, the police say 49 people are going to be charged with killing and general destruction in this latest explosion of violence. How is that playing with this fear over the power vacuum, as some are calling it, and the demands that you're talking about?

PUREFOY: Well, Christiane, Nigerian politics works through the big man. It needs a man at the top. And what's going on here in Abuja and what's going on in Jos -- and not just Jos, but also the Niger Delta and many other crises across the country -- because there's no big man here, the protestors here were saying -- and everyone else believes, feels, Christiane -- that everyone else, the local governors are trying to get away with as much as they can, because there's no one at the top, Christiane, to stop them.

AMANPOUR: And what about people's demands? You've spoken a little bit about them. They've obviously been in the street. We've seen the pictures. They look pretty angry. Has there been any visible presence by the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan?

PUREFOY: There is very little sign, Christiane, of the acting president at all. Even on the national television stations, he never makes an appearance, and he's very rarely made any public appearances, unless he's been forced to through some sort of meeting, Christiane. He is the acting president in name, but it doesn't seem in power -- Christiane?

AMANPOUR: So describe a little bit of the power struggle that's happening. He's fired the national security adviser. Some are describing it as his camp versus the camp of the actual president, who's out of commission.

PUREFOY: Yes, he has replaced his national security adviser, but the man he's replaced him with, Christiane, is definitely his own man. Gusau is an old figure, a big man in Nigerian politics, and it's unlikely that he's going to be the one listening to Goodluck Jonathan. It's probably going to be the other way around. There's a lot of factions up here in Abuja playing for power, Christiane.


You have the Yar'Adua faction, the president who hasn't been seen, but the ministers around him, being called a cabal, in popular -- in the papers. Then also you have the Goodluck faction...


PUREFOY: And they're clashing, trying to control the presidency, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Christian Purefoy there in Abuja for us. Thank you very much for joining us.

And talking about this power struggle and what happened over the weekend, earlier, I spoke to the former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, about the political turmoil in Nigeria and, of course, about the aftermath of that massacre. I began by asking him, what was the behind the bloodshed in Jos?


OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA: Well, our religious leaders, Christians and Muslims, have come together, have deliberated and reflected on these problems in Jos, the violence and the conflict, and have come to say that it is not basically a religious problem.

Basically, it's an ethnic problem. Basically, it's a social problem. Basically, it's an economic problem.

AMANPOUR: Tell me what you mean by economic problem.

OBASANJO: Economic problem, for instance, if you have one group or a community or a settlement (ph) have land and that land has been encroached upon by another community or even by itinerant cattle farmers, then the -- the people who lay claim to the land will fight back. And we have always had that problem here; that is economy.

If there is job opportunity in an area and persons believe that they are indigent of that area, not getting enough out of the jobs that are available, they will fight those who are getting the jobs. That's part of the economic.


AMANPOUR: I also asked Mr. Obasanjo whether he thought that it was strange that the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, has not even seen the president, Yar'Adua, since his return from about three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.


OBASANJO: I think the entire Mr. Yar'Adua saga is strange. I think the entire espied of Yar-Adua's illness and the way it was handled by those who -- by his handlers and the way that's been couched in secrecy and shrouded in mystery is strange. And somebody said it can only happen in wonderland Nigeria (ph).


AMANPOUR: And crucially for Nigeria, Mr. Obasanjo said that unless Goodluck Jonathan can implement the kind of reform that he has said he wants to and that the people want, it could become, in Mr. Obasanjo's words, dangerous for Nigeria.

And now for another view, let's turn to the Nobel Prize-winner Wole Soyinka, who's in Lagos for us. For six decades, Mr. Soyinka has been a leading figure in Nigeria's literary and its political life, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986.

Mr. Soyinka, thank you so much for joining us again on this program, this time by phone. How do you assess what's happening and whether Nigeria can emerge from this latest explosion of violence and, indeed, the power vacuum?

WOLE SOYINKA, NIGERIAN AUTHOR AND NOBEL LAUREATE: Well, let's begin with the immediate event, the explosion of violence. It's (inaudible) this nation has been surviving on a culture of impunity. This is not the first of such riots. The failure to punish and intervene very, very forcefully in such clashes in the past. This is what has resulted in this very latest event.

We have -- and because I (inaudible) opportunism, I am talking about politicians, including the head of state, who have deliberately refrained from acting firmly simply because of political reasons, making political alliances, not wanting to offend (inaudible) those who, in fact, have committed the most egregious offense, because of where they come from, and all this has created a culture of impunity...


SOYINKA: ... which, of course, results in what we just witnessed lately.


AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Soyinka, if the very top, as you say, are not stepping up to this responsibility to stop this kind, is there any chance that the local civil or religious leaders can come to some kind of agreement?

SOYINKA: It is possible, but it has to be in a very large context. What is happening -- what has happened (inaudible) is (inaudible) for instance, the -- there have been clashes of that nature even further south. I'm glad that the former president, Obasanjo, mentioned the economic aspect, but it's really that in the sense not going down (ph).

There has also been a question of authoritarianism (ph) who've had clashes in Oyor state (ph), which is down south, between the herdsmen and the -- and the farmers...


SOYINKA: ... where the herdsmen have insisted on having their cattle (inaudible)

AMANPOUR: Mr. Soyinka?


AMANPOUR: How will this play into the election that's scheduled for down the road, Nigeria's next election?

SOYINKA: Yes. I was coming to that. This nation -- the people have been demanding a sovereign national conference. The election is a (inaudible) towards emplacing the right people to enable the country to restructure itself.

And the elections are crucial. They are very crucial. But believe me, until the various component units of this nation fit together, as what we have called a sovereign national conference, re-organize, reconstitute themselves in (inaudible) not along the (inaudible) which has been handed down first by the colonial past, and then next by the internal colonial past, which is the military.

AMANPOUR: All right.

SOYINKA: Right now, what we're running is a constitution which has been imposed on the people themselves. A sovereign national conference which cuts across all ethnic units, the various nationalities that make up the union, in which the protocols of association are renegotiated...

AMANPOUR: All right, Mr. Soyinka.


SOYINKA: ... governments have been running away from.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Soyinka, thank you so much for that insight. And, of course, those elections that we're talking about are scheduled for next year. Thank you for joining us.

And Nigerians are one of the most active communities on our Facebook page, so log on to, where we're asking you, what is at the heart of the problem in this oil-rich nation?

And next, we'll turn to another Nobel Prize-winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who says in his new book that, despite all of this, it is possible to find good amid violence.



AMANPOUR: We turn now to another voice from Africa who has always preached reconciliation over the urge for revenge. And he is Nobel Peace Prize-winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He came to our studios with his daughter, the Reverend Mpho Tutu, to discuss their fascinating new book on good versus evil.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you both so much for joining us. And this book, "Made for Goodness," is about to go on sale right now. I'm stunned by it, because in it, you both say that we are inherently good and there is inherent goodness, and yet you both have come from one of the most evil systems, apartheid, couldn't be worse, you have witnessed genocide on your own continent, you have seen the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians over that entwined narrative.

Where does your hope come from, Archbishop? Where does the goodness come?

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, CO-AUTHOR, "MADE FOR GOODNESS": Well, it basically is a faith issue. I am a Christian, and one of the wonderful things about it is, you know, you've got one of the worst things happening on a Good Friday. Nothing could be more hopeless. And then Easter happens. And you say, "Wow." Ever after, we've got to be prisoners of hope.

And all of history has demonstrated the truth that evil people, evil systems don't last forever. They bite the dust.

AMANPOUR: Do you think (inaudible)

REVEREND MPHO TUTU, CO-AUTHOR, "MADE FOR GOODNESS": Well, and it's -- you know, as Daddy says, it is a faith claim, but it is not only a faith claim, as he's just underlined, that what history shows us is that, in fact, good is in our own self-interest.

AMANPOUR: Why did you write this book? What message are you trying to give?

D. TUTU: We are so overwhelmed with the things that you show, we're overwhelmed with images of evil, of suffering, of oppression, quite rightly. And that often being overwhelmed by them devastates people into imagining that, no, there can't be any good, all that exists is evil.

And we're saying no, no, no, no, no. The fact of the matter is that evil is really an aberration. The intent of the creator was -- and this is what God says -- after God creates, God says, it is not just good, it's very good. And God rubs both hands and says, "Ha, ha."

AMANPOUR: We are going to take that theme, and we have been talking about not just your book, which is "Made for Goodness," but about what actual impact goodness and its contrary, evil, has on the world today. You know, neighboring Zimbabwe, it has been a huge problem for all of Africa for many, many years.

I want to play you something that you said about Robert Mugabe a few years ago. Listen.


D. TUTU: He's destroyed a wonderful country, a country that used to be a breadbasket. It has now become a basket case itself.

AMANPOUR: You heard what Archbishop Desmond Tutu said.

ROBERT MUGABE, PRESIDENT, ZIMBABWE: That's nonsense. It's just devilish talk.

AMANPOUR: Devilish talk?


AMANPOUR: Do you -- do you not...

MUGABE: He doesn't know what he's talking about, the little man.

AMANPOUR: The little man? He's a Nobel Peace Prize-winner.

MUGABE: Oh, come on.

AMANPOUR: He's a liberation fighter, too.

MUGABE: What liberation?

AMANPOUR: South Africa.

MUGABE: No, of course, you don't know what -- what -- what he's taken and the ANC amounts to.


AMANPOUR: I don't know how you feel listening to that. It was a pretty ad hominem attack on you.

D. TUTU: I -- I -- I developed the hide of a rhinoceros during the apartheid days, because I used to be attacked very viciously. But I still am sad, because he's someone I've had the greatest admiration for, and we've got to give him his due. He surprised the world, after winning the first election, when people thought he was going to engage in an orgy of revenge. He did nothing of the sort. I mean, Ian Smith, the last white prime minister, continued in parliament.

And you've got to give him his due. He did a fantastic job. And it's sad.

AMANPOUR: So what went wrong?

D. TUTU: I have a theory, but it's a very, very long theory, and you don't want to hear.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me -- let me ask you then directly, because this goes to the whole idea of goodness and influence. Africa, South Africa, other African nations have failed to stop what's been going on in Zimbabwe.


And this is -- whatever you want to call it -- the opposite of goodness triumphing. How do you cope with that failure?

And let's face it. South Africa, under a South African president, was leading the effort to moderate President Mugabe's politics and behavior, and it failed.

D. TUTU: Do you want me to...


AMANPOUR: Go ahead.

D. TUTU: ... have a go? One of the things that it demonstrates so wonderfully is the kind of God we have. You know, I mean, people would often say, why did God not stop such-and-such? And you discover, actually, I mean, that God gave us the gift of freedom. And if God were to intervene this time, we were going to make a decision in the wrong way. God would be nullifying that gift.

And so God said -- and the holocaust happened because he has given us an autonomy. God does not zap, as we would have wanted him to, zap the evil ones. He is waiting -- or she is waiting for -- for those human collaborators.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you -- let me ask you about South Africa. Your father chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. That was a moment which could have been a revenge moment. It wasn't. It was a moment where both sides spoke their own narrative. Has the promise of that good forum been met today in South Africa?

M. TUTU: Yes, no. Or no, yes.

The "yes" is that -- what the -- the gift that the TRC, that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, gave us was a common history. Up until the time of the Truth and Reconciliation, each ethnic group, each population group had their own narrative of what it was to be South African, what it was to have lived in apartheid South Africa, what the impact of apartheid was.

With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, each population group told the story as they knew it, and each other population group got to hear and to share in and to be able to say, OK, yes, I can see how it was different for you, so now we have a single South African story.

AMANPOUR: So the narrative became each side accepted the other's narrative, the other's story?

M. TUTU: Yes, very largely, at least, I would say that...

AMANPOUR: Would you say that is key to overcoming conflict, whether it be between the Israelis and the Palestinians, whether it was in Northern Ireland, anywhere else you've -- you've looked at?

M. TUTU: One of the first places -- you don't have to agree that your story is right, only that your story is right for you. This is -- this is how you experience it. Your experience is valid because it's your experience. And I am willing to hear what your experience was. And I think in the Middle East, we haven't got there yet.

AMANPOUR: What about in Rwanda, which went through such a terrible cataclysm of genocide in 1994? You've seen the secretary general of the United Nations, the president of the United States, now the president of France making their pilgrimages of atonement there.

D. TUTU: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Once I heard President Clinton also say that Rwanda has moved forward because it has got over it, because it has moved on. It knows that it has to start over.

D. TUTU: I went very soon after the genocide there, and I had a privilege of preaching. The president asked me -- the then-president asked me to preach. And I said to them, you know, your story -- you can -- you can write a story of Rwanda very easily. It's that at one time you have one ethnic group, the Hutu, are the top dogs, and the Tutsi are the underdogs. The underdog feels clamped on by the top dog, and they are fighting to become the top dog.

When they become the top dog, they clobber these others. And it's going to be repetitive like that until someone says, "Hey, we've got to break this cycle." Somebody has got to accept that there are things that we have done that are wrong against those people, they have got grievances.


And you've got to begin to accept much of -- as Mpho is saying -- you've got to accept that they've got their story, their narrative.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Reverend Mpho Tutu and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, thank you so much for joining us.

D. TUTU: God bless you.

M. TUTU: God bless you.

D. TUTU: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Breaking the cycle. What can South Africa teach Nigeria? That's next on our "Post-Script," when we return.



AMANPOUR: And now our "Post-Script." When it comes to overcoming hatred, there's no better example than South Africa and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the 1990s. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who we were just talking to, was chairman.

Now, there were tears and there were stories, but there was no revenge after apartheid. And Archbishop Tutu's mandate was to end the bitter hostility of apartheid by giving victims and the perpetrators of human rights abuses a public hearing.

It was widely regarded as a success. And now lawmakers in Nigeria are asking their government to set up its own Truth and Reconciliation Commission to end the distrust that has fueled the violence that we've been talking about for the last several days and on this program.

And that's it for now. We'll be back tomorrow with an interview with an Islamic scholar who's issued a fatwa against terrorism. And also, we'll be speaking to a Palestinian and an Israeli who've come together in an unexpected way to discuss both sides' narratives.

Meanwhile, catch a program of this program on For all of us here, goodbye from New York.