Desmond Tutu: 90 years of life – life to the full, despite many struggles and challenges

Desmond Tutu, a tiny giant as many people used to call him, passed away today. I always found him quite an interesting church and public figure. I’ve listened to a number of his interviews. He went through a lot, however he never lost a genuine desire to build “common good”. He was funny, intelligent, always with a big smile on his face. In 1984, he received a Nobel Prize. He was a fighter with a big and open heart. However, above all Desmond Tutu was a Man of Peace and a Man of God.

He was a teacher, priest, Bishop and Archbishop. He became one of the most prominent opponents of South African’s apartheid, however he was a keen advocate of non-violence protests.

I found it quite interesting that he was disliked by liberals, who regarded him as too radical. Others accused him of being too moderate. Finally, Marxists criticised his anti-communist stance. It is clear that you can’t always please everyone! However, his beliefs were never compromised. He didn’t worry too much about his “reputation”. He continued to fight for issues, which were close to him: justice and equality.

Maybe there is something that each one of us could learn from Desmond Tutu? Being open to building a fruitful and constructive dialogue? Being firm in our beliefs but also being ready to listen? Maybe, speaking up for those, who often are voiceless? Following Desmond Tutu’s footsteps won’t be easy but the list of options is endless!

* Michal Siewniak is a Lib Dem activist and councillor for Handside ward, Welwyn Hatfield.

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  • Nigel Quinton 29th Dec '21 - 4:10pm

    He was a tiny giant – one of my all time heroes. Despite the terrible wrongs he campaigned against, he kept his sense of humour, and his sense of humanity. The world needs more like him.

  • Nigel Jones 29th Dec '21 - 6:23pm

    In my first public meeting as Parliamentary candidate in 2010, a group of school children were invited to ask questions. One was which living person we looked up to and tried to follow; I said Desmond Tutu. He was one as a person with no divide between roles, freely mixing his religious work and his politics because he believed Jesus was not about one particular religion but a new Kingdom on Earth for everyone. He insisted however, as a Bishop that his priests were not to publicly support one particular political party.
    He was inclusive, urging all organisations including the church to care for everyone (male and female, straight or gay, rich or poor etc.) thus campaigning for equality and diversity, which surely is in line with Liberals. His opposition to Communism was very much because he opposed oppression. He would not accept the term ‘Liberal’ partly because it was in South Africa so often a term of abuse and hate and because it therefore divided people into separate ‘camps’.

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