/ 26 December 2021

You’ve earned your rest, Arch. Go dance with the angels

Tutu 'deeply Anxious' As State Stalls On Dalai Lama Visa
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

As a young South African, there was one man I would have given anything to spend an hour with — the effervescent Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

In my family, Tutu was only ever spoken of with the utmost respect: he embodied the values that we as a family treasure. 

To me, the Arch represented so much of the man I strive to be. He was one of the great leaders, not just in South Africa but in the world, and yet he emanated humility. He commanded respect but danced through life with a smile and laughter. He was a firm critic of anyone who violated the values of human decency and yet brought love and happiness wherever he went. 

Tutu taught me that a strong man can cry, that acting with grace is the opposite of acting with the piousness so often associated with the church. He respected the sanctity of ceremony while embracing the humanness of life. Perhaps most importantly, by being open about his humanness he showed that being a great leader and a great man does not mean you need to be an infallible man. 

Tutu spoke with conviction, led with courage and loved with abandon. There is absolutely no doubt that he is one of the greatest South Africans to have ever lived. I was fortunate enough to be present at the annual Desmond Tutu peace lecture at the University of the Western Cape in the year that the government turned down the Dalai Lama’s visa. Fortunately the lecture continued as a Skype conversation between the Arch and the Dalai Lama. That conversation will stand out for me as one of the most formative moments of my life, I cannot put my finger on why except to say that there was something incredible and inexplicably important about the love and humility demonstrated by the two men.

Tutu has, of course, been an integral part of South African history. He will forever be remembered for his staunch criticism of the apartheid government, his role as chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and his outspoken criticism of the post-apartheid government. He has proven in these acts that above all he valued justice, fairness and dignity.

While we mourn his passing we must not forget to celebrate his life. There are very few times in history that the world has been blessed by the presence of a man like him. 

Hamba kakuhle, Arch, enkosi kakhulu.