Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu received his Covid-19 vaccine in May. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu received his Covid-19 vaccine in May. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

UWC salutes Tutu on his 90th birthday, continues to be inspired by his ’greatness’, sacrifices

By OWN Correspondent Time of article published Oct 7, 2021

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Cape Town – “The Arch has always been a profound example of humanity, humility, humour and grace,” University of the Western Cape (UWC) rector and vice-chancellor Professor Pretorius said in congratulating Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on his 90th birthday on Thursday.

“He taught us all that we can only be our true selves if we help others be their true selves, and that justice, truth and forgiveness can work together for a better world. Happy birthday, Arch!” Pretorius said in a UWC statement on the icon who served as chancellor for 25 years.

“Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of those rare personalities whose greatness inspires rather than diminishes.

“His strength of character shines through in his decades of resistance to government oppression and corruption, and in his ceaseless moral leadership and quiet compassion for the suffering. And yet it feels like our beloved Arch is much younger than his 90 years – there might be something to this activism thing after all!”

Pretorius added: “His service as chancellor for the University of the Western Cape over an unprecedented 25 years helped to build the foundation of what we are today.

’’We’ve gone from a Bush College to an engaged, research-led learning and teaching university that is ranked among the world’s finest - and we couldn’t have done it without his leadership.”

In 2014, UWC launched the Desmond Tutu Centre for Spirituality and Society, since renamed the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice. The chair of the centre, Professor Sarojini Nadar, said: “Archbishop Emeritus Tutu has helped us develop a mature consciousness about the role of faith in matters of social justice.

’’We are inspired by his contemplative social praxis for justice, which connects the physical, intellectual, and spiritual within radical communities of love.

’’The research being produced under the auspices of the Chair and Centre encourages us to shift our perceptions of a ’meek and mild’ and domesticated Desmond Tutu that seems to dominate the contemporary popular imagination.

’’Instead a feisty ’rabble-rouser’, trouble-maker for justice and peace is promoted. As we celebrate nine decades of his life and witness, we are mindful that his multiple accolades have come at great cost and personal sacrifice.

’’We can only marvel at his fortitude and resilience, but we should also pledge to help create a world where the presence of justice will alleviate the romanticisation of Black resilience, and instead foster lifegiving spaces of rest, hope and joy!”

The Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba, his successor as Archbishop and as UWC's chancellor, said: “Forever caring for his flock as a shepherd, Desmond Tutu has taught us how to really love people in a selfless and sincere manner - and to inspire them to love one another.

“He embodies the spirit of ubuntu, recognising the strengths and vulnerabilities in himself and in others, and helping them to recognise their common humanity and their interdependence and equality before God.

’’Always willing to renew and anxious to reform, resuscitate and rebuild, never shy to stand up for what’s right when the powerful are wrong – you continue to set an example for us to strive towards. Happy birthday - and may there be many more!”

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