Happy Birthday Archbishop Tutu

We are so excited. On 23 October we will be hosting Archbishop Desmond and Leah Tutu at the guesthouse on their visit to Swellendam to receive the honorary citizenship of the town.  We have been working on this event for a year, from the first letter to the Tutu Foundation, to discussing it with the mayor, to organising the various elements of the day’s activities.


Today is Mr Tutu’s birthday. We wish him the very best for the year ahead and we look forward to meeting them in Swellendam later this month.

Swellendam Mayor Nicolas Myburgh with Bennie Gool and other members of the team bringing Tutu to Swellendam

Swellendam Mayor Nicolas Myburgh with Bennie Gool and other members of the team bringing Tutu to Swellendam

Why do we love Tutu? Here are a few reasons…

Speaking recently at the United Nation’s launch of its “Free & Equal” campaign to promote fair treatment of LGBT persons, Tutu declared that the issue was so close to his heart that he “would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven” and instead choose “the other place.” Calling for greater protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons, Archbishop Emeritus Tutu said, “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.” He added, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.” Tutu went on to compare his advocacy for LGBT persons to his fight against apartheid, saying, “I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.” A video recording of Tutu’s partial remarks can be viewed on YouTube.

In 1994, Tutu said that he approved of artificial contraception and that abortion was acceptable in a number of situations, such as incest and rape. He specifically welcomed the aims of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. He accepted the full legalisation of abortion in South Africa, in 1996, despite some personal reservations.

Together with Mairead Maguire and Adolpho Perez Esquivel, Tutu published a letter in support of Bradley Manning, saying, “The words attributed to Manning reveal that he went through a profound moral struggle between the time he enlisted and when he became a whistleblower. Through his experience in Iraq, he became disturbed by top-level policy that undervalued human life and caused the suffering of innocent civilians and soldiers. Like other courageous whistleblowers, he was driven foremost by a desire to reveal the truth” and, “The military prosecution has not presented evidence that Private Manning injured anyone by releasing secret documents… Nor has the prosecution denied that his motivations were conscientious.”

Tutu has been a staunch opponent since the start of the Iraq War, saying that it has “destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history”. In September 2012, Tutu called for George Bush and Tony Blair to be tried for their role in the conflict by the International Criminal Court and that they should be made to “answer for their actions”.

Tutu says he reads the Bible every day and recommends that people read it as a collection of books, not a single constitutional document: “You have to understand is that the Bible is really a library of books and it has different categories of material,” he said. “There are certain parts which you have to say no to. The Bible accepted slavery. St Paul said women should not speak in church at all and there are people who have used that to say women should not be ordained. There are many things that you shouldn’t accept.”

As of March 2012, Tutu was a member of the Advisory Board for Global March to Jerusalem (GM2J). According to Paul Larudee, founding member of GM2J, the aim was to “march from many starting points and converge on Jerusalem, either reaching that destination or getting as close to it as possible” on 30 March 2012 as an act of nonviolent resistance to what he describes as Israel’s Judaization of Jerusalem.