Exhibition explores Tutu’s activism

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond and Leah Tutu planting an olive tree at The Old Granary, home of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, where the Truth to Power exhibition will be launched later this year.

A new permanent exhibition detailing Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s contribution to South African and world history, has been announced.

The exhibition, called Truth to Power, will be launched later this year at the Old Granary building to mark the Archbishop’s 90th birthday on October 7.

The exhibition, in collaboration with the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, forms part of the foundation’s Knowledge Legacy Programme, which aims to use the foundation’s archive to publicise the impact Archbishop Tutu has had on the world, through interactive exhibitions and educational material.

Archbishop Tutu has won many international prizes for his humanitarian activism, including the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. He is a member of The Elders, a select group of senior statesmen, peace activists and human rights advocates who were brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to promote peace and human rights.

The exhibition is expected to be made up of six parts:

● The church as a site of struggle between those who supported colonialism and racial oppression and those who fought against it;

● The achievements of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as well as its unfinished business;

● Speaking truth for global justice – how Archbishop Tutu did not stop his activism when South Africa gained democracy;

● How the apartheid-era policy of Bantu Education changed Archbishop Tutu’s life and South Africa’s history;

● How apartheid’s policy of forcibly removing people of colour from areas designated for white settlement sparked international sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid state; and

● On the streets and in stadiums – how Archbishop Tutu took every opportunity to preach defiance of apartheid in all its manifestations, to advocate for justice and to plead for peace.

Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation CEO Piyushi Kotecha said they were “thrilled to be able to so comprehensively showcase the indelible mark Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s spiritual leadership has made on South African society, and on society everywhere”.

“We feel as humbled as we feel proud to be the custodians of the Archbishops’ legacy, and we are glad to be able to fulfil our duty to share it as widely as possible so that his greatest gifts to global society – conscience, trust, compassion and peace – not only remain with us, but grow.”

The Western Cape premier Alan Winde said they welcomed the exhibition, and were in support of it.

“Archbishop Desmond Tutu is South Africa’s moral compass, continually reminding us of that critical African concept: ubuntu – that ‘I am because you are’. He is one of Cape Town’s greatest citizens, if not the Mother City’s greatest citizen, and the Western Cape government is honoured to be working with the foundation and the Apartheid Museum in this illuminating exhibition.

“What better time to present it than when we are all struggling with the enormous challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. Desmond Tutu is an incandescent example of the triumph of hope over circumstances, and we need him now as we needed him during apartheid,” said Mr Winde.

Emilia Potenza, the Apartheid Museum’s exhibitions and education curator, said Cape Town is the perfect venue for the permanent exhibition.

“The Arch’s story is an indelible part of Cape Town’s story. All over the Mother City are places that have significance in the story of Desmond Tutu’s extraordinary leadership in the struggle against apartheid. We are delighted and excited to bring our experience in tackling the difficult subject of apartheid to the telling of Tutu’s life story, which in so many ways is the tale of the triumph of good over evil.”