The Arch turns 90

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu celebrated his 90th birthday last week.

Milnerton’s most celebrated resident, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, turned 90 last week.

The struggle icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, known simply the world over as “The Arch”, had his birthday on Thursday October 7, when he and his wife, Leah, attended a thanksgiving service at the St Georges’ Cathedral.

The Arch was born in Klerksdorp in 1931. He has dedicated his life to fighting for equality. In the 1950s, he worked as a schoolteacher before being ordained as a priest in 1961.

In 1984, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his fight against apartheid.

He went on to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995.

Premier Alan Winde praised The Arch and asked South Africans to follow in his footsteps by being compassionate, brave, and by standing together, united in our diversity.

“It doesn’t matter who he is with or what the occasion is about. He is a shining light that fills the room with positive energy each and every time, leaving you feeling happier and more hopeful. That is a very special quality and one that I admire greatly,” said Mr Winde.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Western Cape Premier Alan Winde pictured during the second phase of the vaccine rollout for over 60s in May

In 2010, The Arch retired from public life but is still seen by many as a symbol of hope in the fight for equality.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela said that The Arch “answered the call to discharge the burden of privilege by speaking out for justice and freedom for all”.

The CEO of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Piyushi Kotecha, said that the outpouring of love and appreciation was warmly welcomed.

“As the custodians of the archbishop’s legacy, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation is reminded of the immense task we have to protect and extend the wonderful inheritance the archbishop is bequeathing to the world,” she said.

The foundation, which was started in 2013, aims to inspire young people to promote learning, leadership and dialogue. The foundation’s 90@90 campaign aims to raise R90-million by October 7, 2022.

Leah Tutu will celebrate her 88th birthday tomorrow, Thursday October 14. The couple have been married for 66 years.