(GIN)—Outspoken peace advocate, former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, marked his 82 birthday Monday amidst well-wishers including former U.N. chief Kofi Annan who delivered the third annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the University of the Western Cape.
Annan called on Africans to embrace all people regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or economic status. He urged religious leaders to speak up on these issues.
“There is a crucial role here for Africa’s religious leaders in promoting tolerance, understanding of our common humanity. We need them at every opportunity to denounce violence, discrimination, increments on the grounds of gender and sexuality perhaps above all, they must welcome the freedoms of all of these not just their own,” said Annan.
Tutu referred to the strife in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo as he introduced the former UN secretary general.
“Can you imagine what it must be like for God… looking down (and) saying those are my children in Syria, those using chemical weapons are my children, those dying are my children,” said Tutu.
Bandile Masuku, spokesman for the ANC’s Youth League said in a statement: “We are happy for our grandfather who has always stood in defense of human rights and equality for all. We wish him a happy birthday full of happiness and joy.”
Tutu, an active user of social media, disseminates his messages through Twitter, Huffington Post, and via livestream audio.
Clement Mokone, among the many online well-wishers, wrote: “Here is a man I can peacefully eat a piece of chicken, gravy and pap with and be happy. Happy birth day Des. May God keep more for the sake of our country!! We love You.”
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 16 print edition.
Category: Africa Briefs