In 2011, Tutu had invited the Tibetan spiritual leader to South Africa to attend his 80th birthday celebrations. However, after delays in issuing him with a visa, the Dalai Lama cancelled his trip.
Spokesperson for the International Relations and Co-operation Ministry Clayson Monyela said at the time that South Africa had not been under any external pressure not to allow the spiritual leader into the country and insisted that normal procedures were followed.
This was despite beliefs by some that South African authorities feared jeopardising ties with their key trade partner China.
Several high placed dignitaries attended the gathering at the cathedral, while U2 front man and philanthropist Bono and the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairperson Berit Reiss-Andersen sent congratulatory messages via videos.
City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, who commissioned the Design Indaba to create the the Arch for Arch monument in honour of Tutu’s legacy, said he remained “a leading light advocating for peace, equality and reconciliation”.
She hoped that the monument would remind South Africans of their duty to protect the Constitution.
Upholding the Constitution
“The Arch for Arch representing the 14 chapters of our Constitution must be a constant reminder to all of us about where we come from and to uphold the values contained in our Constitution.”
De Lille said over time, the Constitution had become more democratic than some of those individuals who had helped draft it.
She was among those who helped to draft it, adding that at the time all the powers were given to the president of the country, because “we had Tata Madiba in mind”.
It was not expected that so soon after democracy was attained, that the moral fabric of leadership would no longer be the same, De Lille said.
Tutu surprised the audience
In an unexpected move, Tutu surprised the audience by insisting to thank the audience for coming.
He walked to the podium, climbing a flight of stairs, with the assistance of the Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane.
“I just want you to know how deeply [my wife and I] have been moved.”
Tutu recalled when the Cathedral was a sanctuary and in reference to the Cape Town peace march of 1989, he said about 30 000 gathered there and “the walls of ‘unfreedom’ toppled”.
“It’s amazing, I mean now [to] come in here and see all you beautiful people.”
A jubilant Tutu thanked representatives of other faith groups attending the gathering. “[This is] not just a Christian thing; it was all of us together,” he said.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. We are who we are because of you.”
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