In 2007, John Sentamu cut up his dog collar on television in protest at Zimbabwe’s oppressive leadership.
He said he would not put it back on until Robert Mugabe stepped down. As Archbishop of York, he has delivered his services without the traditional marker of the clergy for last 10 years.
So now that Mugabe has left power, people are wondering whether this means he will wear his dog collar again.
We asked his office and they said the Archbishop was aware of the news but was not yet ready to comment.
Instead, he offered his prayers to the people of Zimbabwe, repeating his comments on Twitter that he hopes peace, security and the rule of law will remain.
In 2007, he explained the decision on the Andrew Marr show by saying that his clerical collar was about his identity, and that Mugabe had taken the identity of the Zimbabwean people and ‘cut it into pieces’.
‘As an Anglican, this is what I wear to identify myself, that I am a clergyman,’ he said.
‘Do you know what Mugabe has done? He has taken people’s identity and literally – if you don’t mind – cut it to pieces. ‘This is what he has actually done to a lot of [people]. And in the end there is nothing. So… from now on I am not going to wear a dog collar until Mugabe has gone.’
93-year-old Mugabe stepped down last Tuesday after the military took control of the country and told him to resign or face being impeached.
Commenting under the Archbishop’s post on Twitter, one user wrote: ‘Looks like you might be able to wear your dog collar again soon… Hopefully, this will be a new dawn for the country; one of peace and prosperity.’ Kevin Russell added: ‘I’m guessing that for a man of peace such yourself, a military coup is not the best solution. I totally agree. But if that is what it takes to remove this despot who doesn’t recognise the outrage of other political and religious leaders, then so be it.’
Writing in The Times previously, Sentamu had said his wish was for free and fair elections to remove Mugabe from power. Today his office said he was aware of the news and would offer comment when he was ready.