/ 6 October 2011

Bono serenades Tutu — ‘the only rock star in the room’

Bono Serenades Tutu 'the Only Rock Star In The Room'

Music, jokes and the sound of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s signature chuckle filled St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Thursday afternoon at the start of festivities for the anti-apartheid cleric’s 80th birthday.

Irish musician Bono told Tutu, who turns 80 this week, that he was “the only rock star in the room” before breaking into the song, “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, backed by the Soweto Gospel Choir.

“There is only one rock star in this room sitting in front of me,” said Bono, who was speaking at the launch of the book Tutu: The Authorised Portrait.

The Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu turns 80 on Saturday. Amid all the Dalai Lama drama, the M&G reflects on some of the memorable moments in the Arch’s life.

“At 80 you are on one punk rock level higher than I am. You are also more dangerous than any rock star because, Arch … you’re radical like the Christ in whose footsteps you tread. Whatever grace is, Tutu’s got it.”

Bono joked he was only in the country because he was “not radical enough not to get a visa”.

Earlier this week, Tutu criticised the government for the way in which it had handled the visa application of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who he had wanted to attend his birthday celebration.

Bono said: “If I don’t do what he asks me to, he tells me he will personally see to it I won’t get into heaven.”

Veteran journalist Allister Sparks who co-authored the book on Tutu’s life, made fun of a remark by President Jacob Zuma that the ANC would rule until Jesus Christ returned.

Tutu said earlier this week he would pray for the downfall for the ANC, like he had prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government.

“If it all boils down to who has greatest pull in this instance I know who I will have my money on,” Sparks said to laughter from the audience packed into the cathedral.

Radio host Redi Thlabi, who hosted the function, said she had read a note on the social network site Twitter, possibly from Tutu. The joke was a letter to the Dalai Lama from Tutu, urging him to “fly to Zimbabwe” and walk over the border — “no visa required”.

It had also been suggested that the Dalai Lama be smuggled into South Africa.

“Smuggling in a in man in an orange robe and another in a pink dress might prove to be a little difficult,” she said.

Tutu had remarked he would pray to bring down the ruling party. Thlabi asked if perhaps ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s being admitted to a Limpopo hospital with flu symptoms on Wednesday had anything to do with this.

“I’m just saying,” she said as the audience laughed and clapped.

Thlabi said Zuma had stopped saying the ANC would rule until Jesus came, after he found out that, according to the book of Revelations “Jesus cometh soon”.

“That put an end to that,” she said. — Sapa