The family of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has called on South Africans to continue his legacy by showing empathy and Ubuntu towards their fellow man.
The Tutu family was addressing the nation following the passing of the iconic Anglican Church leader and liberation struggle icon in Cape Town, on Sunday morning.
Family representative, Dr Mamphele Ramphele, said Tutu himself embodied the values of Ubuntu in his lifetime.
“The Archbishop wants us to focus on Ubuntu…what it means to be human and he didn’t preach about being human. He lived the core values of Ubuntu. And those values shone through in his care for the lowest amongst us, for the distressed and also for the nation that has had such a traumatic history.
“The Archbishop fought against racism, fought against sexism, fought against homophobia and fought against any injustice because an injury to one is an injury to all of us,” she said.
Ramphele said Tutu’s life was an ode to resilience in that the Archbishop suffered from many illnesses like Polio and Tuberculosis in his early life whilst also fighting the injustices of apartheid at the same time.
“In all of that, all you heard from him was that chuckle, that joy, that deep sense of gratitude. As we mourn the passing of this great man, we really would like South Africa and the world to focus on the teaching moments of this man’s life.
“It is in recognising that whatever his vulnerability, he used every moment to make sure that people do not suffer whatever he suffered and so he was a great promoter of well-being and healthcare,” she said.
Ramphele said even with the advent of democracy, Tutu continued to “speak truth to power”.
“He continued to be a person who speaks truth to power in the hope that we may rise to our responsibilities as a nation that has this wonderful heritage of Ubuntu to guide our democratic process and our nation building. The greatest tribute we can pay to the Archbishop, would be for us to mark today as a day on which each one of us would start the journey of healing ourselves…and seeing others in ourselves,” she said.
The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation chairperson Niclas Kjellström-Matseke said the family expressed its gratefulness for the messages of condolences sent from people across the world mourning Tutu’s passing.
“On behalf of the family I would to express the gratefulness that it feels for all the warmth, the love and the caring thoughts that have been coming across. Thank you for your love, thanks to friends, thanks to fellow South Africans, thanks to leaders around the world and people of all religions for showing their love,” he said.
Kjellström-Matseke said Tutu’s legacy is one that deserves to be passed on for many years to come.
“The Arch has certainly done his part. It’s up to each and every one of us if we want to embrace what he stood for…and in order for this to happen, we have to listen. We have to want to understand our opponents, enemies and our surroundings.
“We used to call him the last man standing and if that was the case then the last man standing has finally laid down for his rest. May his soul rest in peace and may his spirit and his values inspire us all,” Kjellström-Matseke said.
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said Tutu shaped South Africa for the better in ways that very few have done.
“I know I speak for the whole city in conveying our deep condolences to Mama Leah, the entire Tutu family, and to his extended family in the global Anglican Church.
We mourn the passing of the greatest Capetonian, and one of the last giants of our time,” he said.