It is with sadness but also with love and immense gratitude that we bid farewell to one of our great leaders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Over the course of many years, the Arch, as he came to be affectionately known, showed many of us what it truly means to be a spiritual leader, an activist, a patriot, a realized human being.
He was a reconciler when it was time for reconciliation, a fierce fighter when it was time for fierce fighting; he gave himself unstintingly to our young democracy, and because he did not hold anything back, because he spoke and acted always from his truth and his spiritual conviction, he became a true moral compass for our still learning nation.
In his tireless efforts to leave the world better than he had found it, Archbishop Tutu fought for social justice throughout his life, and spoke out against injustice wherever it reared its head.
He represented the kind of leadership the world needs, perhaps now more than ever: visionary, courageous, uncompromising, but also empathetic, inclusive, looking always to the plight of the poorest and most marginalized.
He was a true leader because he was willing to be human: his infectious laughter will not be forgotten, nor will his energetic dance, nor will his tears, his ability to share his own vulnerability with us.
The Motsepe Family has learned much from his insights, particularly his teachings on Ubuntu. He wrote, “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good; for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”
While studying at the University of the Witwatersrand, I shared a class with his daughter Thandeka Tutu. Through our relationship I was fortunate to get to know the Arch, not just as the public figure but also as a loving father to his children and a devoted husband to Mama Leah.
Years later, at his request, the Motsepe Foundation started a Fund that sought to cater to the needs of bishops and priests. Through this Fund I witnessed his always-on-call kind-heartedness, caring deeply for those whose job it was to care for others.
His life was a testament to the scripture, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
We say thank you, and we extend our condolences to the family of the Arch, and wish them grace and strength in this time of mourning.
Archbishop Tutu will be terribly missed, but his example, the model of human possibility he represented, will continue to inspire and guide many South Africans, and the value of this legacy is inestimable.
Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe
Founder and CEO
African Fashion International