Tutu pays trib­ute to ‘pre­cious di­a­mond’

Arch­bishop emer­i­tus looks back over 24 years

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

ARCH­BISHOP Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu strug­gled to hold back the tears as he re­flected on his friend­ship with Nel­son Man­dela, urg­ing all South Africans to em­u­late Madiba’s “in­cred­i­ble gifts”, and hon­our his legacy.

Tutu, ac­com­pa­nied by his daugh­ter Rev­erend Mpho Tutu, was ad­dress­ing the me­dia dur­ing a spe­cial brief­ing yes­ter­day.

Tutu thanked the Man­dela fam­ily for al­low­ing all South Africans to call him the fa­ther of the na­tion.

He shared his mem­o­ries and sto­ries of Man­dela, in the emo­tional, hon­est and blunt man­ner for which he has be­come renowned.

He listed some of the for­mer pres­i­dent’s un­for­get­table achieve­ments and great acts of com­pas­sion, mercy and for­give­ness that united a na­tion fol­low­ing his re­lease from prison. The ex­ploits in­cluded walk­ing on to the field at El­lis Park Sta­dium wear­ing a Spring­bok jersey for the 1995 Rugby World Cup fi­nal, and invit­ing Dr Percy Yu­tar, the man who pros­e­cuted Man­dela and nine other ANC lead­ers dur­ing the Rivo­nia Trial, to lunch.

His for­give­ness even ex­tended to some of the ar­chi­tects of the apartheid regime, said Tutu.

“When we, in the TRC, de­manded to have PW Botha ap­pear, he… wouldn’t (come). I don’t know if many of the peo­ple know that Madiba came to me and said ‘go and tell him I am pre­pared to at­tend the ses­sions when he will ap­pear be­fore the TRC, and I will sit side by side with him’.”

Man­dela’s time in prison, Tutu said, had made him un­der­stand the hu­man con­di­tion, and gave him the abil­ity to un­der­stand the Afrikan­ers who were his prison warders.

“Like a most pre­cious di­a­mond held deep be­neath the earth, Madiba who emerged from prison in Jan­uary 1990, was vir­tu­ally flaw­less when you think he went to prison an an­gry, rel­a­tively young, young man, and emerged as this in­cred­i­ble icon of mag­na­nim­ity with com­pas­sion.”

Tutu called on all South Africans to hon­our and build on Man­dela’s legacy. “What’s go­ing to hap­pen to us now that our fa­ther has died? Does it spell dooms­day and dis­as­ter for us? Some have sug­gested that af­ter he’s gone, our coun­try is go­ing to go up in flames. This is, I think, to dis­credit us South Africans, to dis­credit his legacy. The sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day… It may not ap­pear as bright as yes­ter­day, but life will carry on.

“Over the past 24 years Madiba taught us how to come to­gether and be­lieve in our­selves and each other, a uni­fier from the mo­ment he walked out of prison. He taught us ex­traor­di­nar­ily prac­ti­cal lessons about for­give­ness, com­pas­sion and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Help us to em­u­late him, help… this fan­tas­tic coun­try to be the best me­mo­rial we can…”

kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: LEON LESTRADE

GRAT­I­TUDE: Angli­can Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu ex­tended his thanks to the Man­dela fam­ily yes­ter­day for shar­ing Nel­son Man­dela with South Africa and the world.

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