Best way to honour Tutu is to continue his legacy

The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. File photo: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS
The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. File photo: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS

An endearing giggle, a contagious laugh and a way of easing tensions with humour, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a man like no other. His small stature belied his larger-than-life persona.

SA has lost its last remaining icon, its conscience, its only leading light. A man of integrity, who feared no-one and lived his truth.

As a young reporter decades ago, I was astounded by his small stature when I first met him and battled to reconcile his size with the greatness of his character.

But it was his courage and unshakeable faith and belief in the good in humanity that made him a giant among men. 

Public works minister Patricia de Lille, who was at his bedside just before he died, highlighted that the Nobel Peace prize winner and crusader for the oppressed spoke truth to power during apartheid and also spoke truth to power in the time of the democratic government. 

He never wavered in his faith.

And he did not discriminate when it came to criticising those in power.

He was one of the fiercest opponents of the apartheid regime, but later also lambasted the ANC, accusing them of tyranny and telling them “you are not God”.

The Dalai Lama, who was denied a visa to visit SA on three separate occasions, most recently in 2014 when he was due to attend a summit of Nobel Peace laureates, also attended by Tutu,  wrote in a letter of condolence to Tutu’s daughter that “the Arch”, as he was affectionately known, “was devoted to the service of others, especially those who were least fortunate”.

“I am convinced the best tribute we can pay him and keep his spirit alive is to do as he did and constantly look to see how we, too, can be of help to others.”

He described Tutu as a true humanitarian and committed advocate for human rights.

“We have lost a great man, who lived a truly meaningful life,” he wrote.

Desmond and Leah Foundation chair Niclas Kjellström-Matseke said:  “We all want to become better human beings thanks to the spirit of the Arch.”

He said Tutu had played his part and it was now up to South Africans to continue his legacy.

We concur. The best way to honour Tutu is to continue his fight for a better life for the millions still living in abject poverty in this country and to call the government out on its failings.

We cannot stay silent in a sea of misery.

HeraldLIVE

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