Tutu marks 80th birthday in cathedral

2011-10-07 12:16

Cape Town - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu celebrated his 80th birthday on Friday in the cathedral where he once rallied against white-minority rule, with feelings still raw over the Dalai Lama's exclusion from the event.

St George's Cathedral, where Tutu served as the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town until 1996, was filled with family and well-wishers from U2 frontman Bono to Graca Machel, the wife of Nelson Mandela.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe sat in the front pew across from Tutu's family, but notably absent were President Jacob Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki.

Both men have fallen under Tutu's scathing criticism - Mbeki for his years of denying the reality Aids epidemic; Zuma for corruption scandals that never made it to trial.

Dalai Lama outrage

Tutu's outrage at Zuma boiled over again this week when the Dalai Lama had to cancel his planned visit for the birthday, saying he had not received a visa in time.

Tutu lambasted Zuma for kowtowing to China, accused him of failing South Africa's democratic ideals, and threatened to pray for his downfall.

"I am warning you that we will pray as we prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government, we will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us," Tutu said on national television Tuesday.

The Dalai Lama, a longtime friend of Tutu's and a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, is now set to give a speech Saturday by video link.

The tensions of the week, which have dominated South Africa's front pages, were pushed to the side Friday as the pews of St George's filled and birthday presents piled up at the doors.

"With every year that passes, you seem more ageless or even more youthful," the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams said in a message read out from the altar.

"But this particular anniversary reminds us all how much we owe to your decades of love and service to the reign of God and the family of God's people."


The public service was broadcast on national television. As tributes poured in from the altar, Tutu covered his eyes with a handkerchief, embraced by Leah, his wife of 56 years.

The current archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, praised Tutu's bravery and values.

"Rooted in that belief, rooted in that faith, he went into places many people feared to tread," Makgoba said.

"He really stressed the importance of the dignity of difference."

The service combined the ceremony of the Anglican High Mass, with incense, organs and ritual, but also the laughter and warmth that Tutu is famed for.

After the service, Tutu will join family and close friends for a private picnic.

On Saturday, Tutu's Peace Centre said the Dalai Lama will give a lecture via a live video link from Dharamshala, his home in exile in northern India, after a last-ditch appeal to the government to grant him a visa failed.

"Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will engage in a moderated discussion on the topic, Peace and Compassion as Catalysts for Change," said Tutu's office.

"This is the topic that His Holiness was to have spoken on had he been allowed to enter South Africa by the authorities. An empty chair on the stage will symbolise His Holiness's enforced absence."

The event will be broadcast live by South Africa's public television network SABC from the University of the Western Cape and live-streamed over the internet.

Read more on:    desmond tutu peace centre  |  bono  |  desmond tutu  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  thabo makgoba  |  dalai lama  |  graca machel  |  cape town

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Every man should be able to do these three things

They might seem basic, but can you do these three things?



Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!
Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

24 hour sale – Up to 70% off

Its black Friday, save up to 70% on a wide range of awesome products at kalahari.com. Offers valid while stocks last. T&C’s apply. Shop now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a time....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.