Our best birthday present to the Arch would be to become the country and people he fought for – Dennis Cruywagen
CAPE TOWN – Today is the 89th birthday of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate and anti-apartheid campaigner.
Celebrations of his birthday will culminate in the Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture dedicated to climate change and addressed by internationally recognised leader on climate change Christiana Figuere.
Leaders from across the Western Cape extended their best wishes to Tutu.
Premier Alan Winde said: “We are truly grateful to Archbishop Tutu for the role that he played, both as an anti-apartheid activist and in the transition to a peaceful and democratic South Africa. Throughout the years, he has been a determined advocate for human rights, both here in South Africa and around the world.
“Even in our democratic South Africa, Archbishop has not been afraid to call out wrongdoing when he sees it. In doing this, he has shown us how powerful we can be when we use our voices to speak out against injustice.”
Winde added that society is richer for having had a role model like “the Arch” for so many years: “It is wished for the young people of this country to embody the tolerance, kindness and love which he has shown for people around the world.”
ANC provincial spokesperson Dennis Cruywagen said: “During the final push against apartheid, there were two voices that represented the voteless. They belonged to the Reverend Alan Boesak and the Arch. They filled the leadership vacuum created by the ban slapped on political organisations and the imprisonment of leaders.”
He said Tutu epitomised “courage, morality, integrity and the enduring belief that we would eventually walk as free people in our country”.
“Our best birthday present to the Arch would be to become the country and people he fought for,” he added.
Tutu and his wife Leah have supported the Tygerberg Hospital’s children for almost 20 years.
Tygerberg Hospital Trust chief executive Jason Falken said: “They have given tirelessly of themselves and continue to do so today by empowering the youth leaders of our Tutu Tygers Club to carry on the patronage in the Arch’s good name. The proof of a servant-leader such as the Arch is not only in the work he continues to do in his old age, but in the footprints he leaves behind for us to follow.”
He said it is up to the citizens to show Tutu that his work has not been abandoned and that it can indeed be taken much further.
“We can instead honour his achievements by walking the road he has paved for us,” Falken said.