Andrew Marr Interview 26 Nov 2017

On 26 November 2017, Andrew Marr interviewed the Archbishop on the BBC 1 Andrew Marr Show

This is a transcript of the interview 

ANDREW MARR: Now then I’m feeling very old today I have to say.  It is ten years, ten years, since I interviewed the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, about Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe, and then this happened.

[Refers to the interview with the Archbishop on 9/12/2007]:

DR JOHN SENTAMU: People there are starving.  A lot of people are traumatised.  Do you know, their identity is destroyed [Archbishop removes clerical collar]  As an Anglican, this is what I wear to identify myself, that I’m a clergyman.  Do you know what Mugabe has done?  [Archbishop picks up scissors]  He’s taken people’s identity, and literally – if you don’t mind – [Archbishop begins to cut up clerical collar] 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. 

ANDREW MARR: My goodness.  Archbishop that is a dramatic, er, gesture and everybody will observe it. 


ANDREW MARR: Thank you very much indeed for coming in today. 

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Thank you Andrew.  And keep my pieces by the way.  Collect them, until the day when Zimbabwe is free. 

ANDREW MARR:  And then we’ll give you them back. 

[Return to 2017 programme]

ANDREW MARR:  Well now Mugabe has gone.  Is it time for the Archbishop to put his dog collar back on again?  I sat down with him yesterday, and he began by telling me about something that happened to him in the days leading up to Mugabe’s resignation.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: I hadn’t been able to sleep and suddenly Zimbabwe was very very strong in my mind.  And, and I said, “Lord, it’s been going on for a long time, how does this end?”.  And then I… almost hearing a little voice saying, “Light a candle.  At the end when it burns out, it will be the beginning of the end of the government of Robert Mugabe”.  I lit the candle, told my wife, and it started burning.  And it went out on the 14th November.

ANDREW MARR: Very interesting.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: And then, then I heard another voice, “Light another, and when it goes out, Mugabe will be gone” and that one ran out on the 21st.

ANDREW MARR: What does it mean to you yourself, not to have the collar on all that period?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: When I wake up, or dress up, and I’m getting out of the house, normally I tie the top button and then put on my collar.  But for nearly ten years I haven’t been able to put on my collar, back really, and it has meant I remember Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe.

Andrew Marr: Every morning you’re thinking Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe.


ANDREW MARR: You said to me back then, you said, “Here are the bits of my collar.  Keep them for me”.  Nearly ten years on I have got them for you.  They’ve been sitting in my desk.  They’re in a slightly crumpled old envelope but here they all are.  And I said I’d give them back, and so I give them back.


ANDREW MARR: There you are, I don’t know if you can pull them out there.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Oh, they’re all in here!

ANDREW MARR: Yes, they’re all there yes.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Well you’ve been a very faithful friend, you’ve kept them, that’s lovely, and they’re all here.

[The Archbishop holds the pieces of collar in his hand]

Do you know, Andrew, I could attempt to put this one back, or I could try and put them all together using superglue.

ANDREW MARR: It would be a pretty ropey collar.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: A ropey collar, yes.  And I actually think the lesson for Zimbabwe is the same.  They just can’t try and stitch it up.  Something more radical, something new, needs to happen.  In terms of the rule of law, you know allowing people to get jobs, because of course 90% of people are out of work.  So, they can’t just stitch it up.  I need a new collar.


So here is the million dollar question, are you going to put a collar back on again now Archbishop?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Andrew, I promised that when Mugabe goes [The Archbishop takes a new collar out of his jacket pocket] I’ll put my collar on, so I have no choice but to put it back on. [The Archbishop puts on the new collar]  

ANDREW MARR: You’re keeping your promise.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Absolutely.  And Mugabe has gone, but the new president has got to remember – something more new, that just simply stitching up a thing won’t work.

ANDREW MARR: Archbishop you’re looking as you should, congratulations!  But is Zimbabwe as it should be?  We’ve got a new president coming in, Emmerson Mnangagwa, he was one of the hench-people of Mugabe, he’s called ‘The Crocodile’.  Are you convinced that real change is happening?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Well, I mean he’s implicated into a lot of other stuff he’s been denying, for example like the Gukurahundi or the massacre of Matabeleland and Manicaland, he was the Minister…

ANDREW MARR: He was heavily involved in that massacre…

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Well he was the Minister, he was the Minister for Security, and also he was in charge of the Central Intelligence Organisation.  The answer for me and for him, is not simply what he said – “Let bygones be bygones” – because people in Matabeleland and Manicaland who lost nearly twenty thousand people, it is as if it happened yesterday.  So somehow, he’s got to find a way of sorting it out.  Now, who am I to advise him?  But all I would say, he needs similar to what South Africa did, a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to look into it, so that this doesn’t hang over him like a big cloud.  Now, I’m a man of faith.  I’m a strong believer in hope and I’m a strong believer people can change so it’s quite possible, that you know, Emmerson Mnangagwa could actually be a very very good president.  But he can’t simply bury the past, it won’t go away.

ANDREW MARR: As you say you’re a man of faith.  Robert Mugabe himself said, “Nobody can remove me from office but God”.  Now he has been removed from office, and I wonder is it possible to forgive him?  You used to say he should go to The Hague and face the International Court for his crimes against the people of Zimbabwe.  Now he has gone and there seems to be a new mood.  Even Morgan Tsvangirai is saying, “Let the old man be in peace”.  Do you think he should be forgiven?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: It’s not for me, he never killed any of my relations.  At the time the crimes were so raw and so important.  But what happened was that South Africa with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, people were able to say, “We are sorry we did this”.  And Mugabe at some point, needs to say to the people of Zimbabwe, “37 years, I took on a country which was fantastic, and nearly took it to ruin.  Zimbabweans, forgive me.”.

ANDREW MARR: You want him to reflect, look in the mirror, and apologise.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Yes, because he’s a very very intelligent man, and actually I think he’s capable of doing it.  You heard him say, “We must learn to forgive”.  But how can people forgive you if you don’t admit that which you have done?  So he needs to do the second bit, having asked in his rather rambling speech a few days ago, “Zimbabweans we must all learn to forgive”.  Okay, fine, mister former President, can you listen to the things you’ve done wrong to us?  And ask us for forgiveness?  And I’m quite sure Zimbabweans probably will do it. 

ANDREW MARR: Cutting up that dog collar was a very dramatic moment, it made me completely speechless on television – not for the first time but I was dumbfounded, didn’t know what to say.  Did it actually change anything though?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: I think what it did is that Christians were galvanised to be praying for Zimbabwe, people realised that some change needs to happen, but hope can take a long time.  And a friend of mine has said that hope, “Is believing in spite of the evidence, and then watching the evidence change”.  We’ve just watched that evidence change. 

ANDREW MARR: Archbishop thanks very much indeed for talking to us.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Thank you, thank you Andrew, nice to see you again.

ANDREW MARR: Nice to see you again as well.

[Interview ends]

Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.