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)