As birthday wishes poured in from around the world for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 90th birthday, Cape Town artist Brian Rolfe used his brush to once again celebrate the icon.
CAPE TOWN – As birthday wishes poured in from around the world for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 90th birthday, Cape Town artist Brian Rolfe used his brush to once again celebrate the icon.
“Happy birthday Tata Desmond Tutu, Father of the Rainbow Nation” are the words now on the Shortmarket Street mural that was defaced with a racial slur about a week ago.
The police confirmed that a case of Malicious Damage to Property had been lodged at the Cape Town Central police station.
“At first I was so angry when the racist slur was painted on the mural. But then I thought the only way to respond is with a positive message. So I used the same space where the graffiti was to add the birthday message. I wanted to thank him for who he is and what he has done for South Africa,” Rolfe said.
Celebrations kicked off with a special thanksgiving service at St George’s Cathedral, and Tutu then went home to spend time with his loved ones.
His birthday was observed with an online presentation of the 11th annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture.
Tutu’s daughter, Reverend Mpho Andrea Tutu van Furth, said there was a celebratory mood at home, with family members including grandchildren and great grandchildren celebrating the day.
“I could not be more grateful for my father’s life, the work he has done over the years. He has definitely changed and made a difference in the lives of so many of us. It’s not everyday that you turn 90 years old, so we have family members travelling from far and near to be with him and celebrate with us this special blessing. The mood has been very celebratory at home. It might have been an even bigger celebration, but for the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
Tutu’s wife Nomalizo Leah Tutu also celebrates her birthday this month.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said it had experienced Tutu’s life as a blessing, and his struggles against injustice had been matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies.
“The Arch is an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd,” Foundation chief executive Sello Hatang said.
Premier Alan Winde urged people to follow in Tutu’s footsteps.
“He is a shining light that fills the room with a positive energy each and every time, leaving you feeling happier and more hopeful. That is a very special quality, and one that I admire greatly,” he said.