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Gentle tribute of a dissident poet

Legendary apartheid-era dissident poet, writer and publisher, James Matthews, has visited Mrs Leah Tutu at home to share a special poem dedicated to Archbishop Tutu over a cup of tea.

Matthews, now 92-years-old, was detained by the government in 1976. His poetry was banned and he was denied a passport for 13 years.

Best known for the volume of firebrand poetry, Cry Rage (1972), in recent years he published an extraordinary series of poems on the subject of ageing – Age is a Beautiful Phase – and struck up a friendship with the Tutus.

 

A poem dedicated to Archbishop Desmond Tutu

 

a priest of the people

has died

a man filled with piety

and merriment

who defied the horror

of apartheid

with personal confrontation

and prayer

those in the western world awarded him the

Nobel Peace Prize

he was not a seeker

of fame

displaying the humility granted

by God

for us who strived to follow

his lead

a banner and glowing beacon

forever etched in our

heart and mind

Leah Tutu, we are grateful sharing

our Arch

 

James Matthews (10 March 2022)

 

Mrs Tutu visits Truth to Power exhibition

A week after the official opening of a permanent exhibition paying tribute to the late Archbishop Tutu and the church’s roles in the struggle against apartheid, a deeply moved Mrs Leah Tutu visited the exhibition and expressed profound gratitude to all involved in its production.The Archbishop and Mrs Tutu visited the exhibition prior to its completion, on the Archbishop’s 90th birthday last October, but this was Mrs Tutu’s first opportunity to view the full show.The exhibition – Truth To Power: Desmond Tutu and the Churches in the Struggle Against Apartheid – was produced by the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, in collaboration with the Desmond & Tutu Legacy Foundation (which provided valuable artefacts) – and was funded by the National Lottery.The exhibition is located at the Old Granary Building in Cape Town, home of the Archbishop Tutu Trust and the Desmond & Tutu Legacy Foundation.

Farewell Father

CHURCH: Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba led the funeral service for Archbishop Tutu in Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral on New Year’s Day 2022.02.21

STATE: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hands the national flag to the Tutu’s eldest daughter Thandeka, while Mrs Leah Tutu looks on.

An impeccable human being

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu passed away on 26 December 2021 in Cape Town. He had been living with prostate cancer for more than 20 years.

Delivering the sermon at the funeral mass in St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, on 1 January 2022, Bishop Michael Nuttall quoted Nelson Mandela’s description of the Archbishop: ““Sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless.”

Nuttall was known as Number Two to Tutu when he served as Dean of the Province: “The nickname stuck, but more importantly, at a deeper level our partnership struck a chord perhaps in the hearts and minds of many people: a dynamic black leader and his white deputy in the dying years of apartheid; and hey presto, the heavens did not collapse. We were a foretaste, if you like, of what could be in our wayward, divided nation.”

Although the Archbishop was “small in physical stature, he was a giant among us morally and spiritually. His faith was authentic, not counterfeit or half-hearted. He lived it, even at great cost to himself, with an inclusive, all-embracing love,” Nuttall said.

In his eulogy, President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa described the Archbishop as a “crusader in the struggle for freedom, for justice, for equality and for peace. Not only in South Africa… but around the world as well”.

“If we are to understand a global icon to be someone of great moral stature, of exceptional qualities, and of service to humanity there can be no doubt that it refers to the man we’re laying to rest today,” he said.

The Archbishop’s last wishes were a lesson in humility: He insisted that there should be no lavish spending on his funeral, that he wanted the cheapest available coffin adorned by a single bunch of carnations from the family, and that there should not be an expensive wake, known in South Africa as “after tears celebrations”

He felt that available resources would be better spent on the living.

The Archbishop was cremated after the funeral, and his ashes were interred at the Cathedral in a private ceremony the following day.

Apartheid in the Holy Land

An Amnesty International delegation visited the Archbishop Tutu Trust to deliver a copy of its research paper, Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: A cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity. Archbishop Tutu campaigned for justice in the Holy Land for many years. In honour of the Archbishop, the head of Amnesty International’s Jerusalem Office Saleh Hijazi presented Chairperson of the Trust Dr Mamphela Ramphele with an iconic artwork based on a old tourism poster.

With Love From Us

United States Charge d’Affairs Todd Haskell and his colleague Emily Shaffer from the US Consulate General hand-delivered a letter of condolences from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Mrs Tutu in February. They were joined by Mrs Tutu’s son-in-law Mthunzi Gxashe and Chairperson of the Archbishop Tutu Trust Dr Mamphela Ramphele.

DESMOND TUTU’S LEGACY: AN HEIRLOOM FOR HUMANITY

In a world of inequity, greed and unfairness, Desmond Tutu embodied the yearning of many people for a different kind of leadership based on shared human values of equality, justice, compassion and sustainable custodianship of the earth.

He ascribed the public acknowledgment he received to his recognizable nose and the easy pronunciation of his name – Tutu – by Western tongues.

The truth of it is he was a mirror of a special kind: One that absorbed peoples’ anxieties, stripped them of their prejudices, and enabled them to see better versions of themselves.

He was a spiritual leader who transcended his faith, a human rights leader who transcended the anti-apartheid movement, a father who transcended the boundaries of his biological family.

His footprints are scattered across the world, in countries near and far, and imprinted in the struggles of our times against racism, gender prejudice, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, the death penalty, the use of nuclear arms and fossil fuels, poverty, discrimination on the basis of class, culture, faith, age and/or geographic location…

Now, the work of gathering the footprints begins. To ensure they are not erased or distorted by the winds of time. Each one, a piece in a puzzle that, when complete, will reveal Desmond Tutu’s exceptional legacy, an heirloom for humanity.

The Archbishop Tutu IP Trust will from time-to-time share progress on this journey with the world.

The first pieces of the puzzle are revealed on this website today: A batch of 70 television messages recorded by the Archbishop for individuals, organisations and in support of good causes. Follow the link from In the Arch’s Words, below.

The Archbishop recorded hundreds of these messages over the years. They vary from the sentimental (he loved wishing people Happy Birthday or congratulating them on their achievements), to fundraising (for non-profit organisations), to activism and profound wisdom.

Many of the messages would have been played at the specific event for which they were recorded and never seen again. Together they represent an important and little-known body of his work.