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Desmond Tutu: 'inspiration' to mankind

INSPIRATION: Desmond Tutu during his speech at the Templeton Prize ceremony at London's Guildhall (PA)

DURING THE apartheid regime in South Africa, Desmond Tutu stood as a beacon of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation for his country.

The Templeton Prize has recognised this, and on May 21, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town was honoured at London’s Guildhall for his lifetime achievements.

Guests included the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, high-ranking ambassadors for international community, MPs and representatives from charities and African campaign groups.

On receiving the £1.1m prize, Archbishop Tutu paid tribute to his mother, wife Leah Nomalizo and also King’s College.

He said: “I realised just how much I owe to so many people, even in here, there are so many who I have come to be very deeply indebted to.

“I know I have been influenced very deeply by my mother who was not educated and I resemble her, she had a large nose and she was stumpy and remarkably caring and generous. I say I know I resembled her physically, I just hope to some extent I resemble her in spirit and in her caring [nature]”.

The Templeton Prize – the world's largest annual monetary award –was established in 1972 by the late global investor and philanthropist, Sir John Templeton.

It celebrates living people who have made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.
Tutu joins a distinguished group of 42 former recipients including last year’s laureate, the Dalai Lama.

STAR STRUCK: Voice reporter Mary Isokariari with Desmond Tutu

The South African icon added: “Ubuntu – a person can be a person only through other persons. You can be generous only because you learnt from another how to be generous. How God longs for us to know that…we were created for togetherness. We were created to be members of one family God’s family, the human family.”

In a pre-recorded speech by Dr John M Templeton Jr, who was unable to make the event due to ill health, hailed Tutu as “a leading moral voice for love and justice.”

He said: ”Father Desmond is a true entrepreneur of the spirit committed to creating a society guided by the essential human values of love, hope, tolerance and courage.”

These values is what steered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which Tutu chaired shortly after Nelson Mandela shortly became the President of South Africa’s president in 1994.

The inquiry investigated the atrocities committed by both sides in the struggle over apartheid.

The archbishop’s daughter Reverend Mpho Tutu was on hand to offer insight into her father’s life.

She added: “My father has received important prizes over the years for his contribution to the anti-apartheid movement and the peaceful political settlement in South Africa.

"He has received prizes and awards for his work as a human rights activist. A Templeton Prize acknowledges maybe the real Desmond Tutu a service leader, the priest, the pastor, the unflappable person who is willing to admit his failures.”

Many guests said they were honoured to have shared the celebration.

Comedian Lenny Henry said: “By his very existence, he has changed things in the world. It’s not very often you get to be in a room with someone like that.

"It was very moving. With people who have a reputation that proceeds them, you always think I hope they are not going be too serious but he had an incredible balance of being incredibly humorous, incredibly human and we really bonded with him today.”

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