Desmond Tutu: Remembering a lifelong champion of peace, love and understanding

Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Regents University in London in 2012. Photo Hattie Miles

He preached peace, love and understanding and campaigned tirelessly for truth and social justice. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel prize winning peace laureate who has died aged 90, was a truly remarkable man. 

Not only did he help end the scourge of Apartheid in South Africa – an extraordinary feat in itself – but he battled on to achieve reconciliation between opposing factions. His intellect, tenacity and humour were crucial elements in the ongoing fight for what is right.For almost 10 years I had the privilege to work regularly with the Tutu Foundation UK and learnt a lot about Desmond Tutu or Arch as he was invariably known.

This curious encounter between me –  a confirmed atheist – and the world of this man of God occurred like so many other things in my life through a curious chapter of happy accidents. I’m so glad I did. It didn’t make me a believer but it enabled me to witness at relatively close quarters, a charismatic man who was kind, compassionate and caring but certainly no pushover.

Arch could be tough and fearless when required and was always prepared to speak his mind but he aso had an innate ability to weigh up an argument. He could deliver a devastating criticism often skilfully levened by his wonderful wit. .

By nature Arch was excitable and emotional but his really was the voice of reason. Desmond Tutu made a very real difference to our world.

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