ARCHBISHOP DESMOND MPILO TUTU
THE OCCASION OF YOUR 80TH BIRTHDAY
7TH OCTOBER 2011
From the shadows of Klerksdorp
You stride out,
Captive of your calling
Unfolding in sacrifice,
And the sacrament of service.
Remembering a time when
Fishing with your father
You dreamt of mothers’
Hands, weathered and calloused,
Being softened and caressed in solace.
Your ear is attuned to the laments of
Suffering people wounding your frail flesh,
Kindling your anger and indignation;
Tongues of fire, your mitre aflame,
The incense of your cries rising to the heavens:
“I am because we are!”
You shout across forest and mountain.
“Eternity is in the now; redeem the time!”
The largesse of your God
Bursting through the walls dividing us.
You go on a rampage for justice,
Stand in the breech,
Staring into machetes, sticks and petrol bombs,
Prostrate at the altar of forgiveness
For both oppressor and oppressed.
When you finally stop weeping
With the bereft,
Your laughter somehow manages
To fill the wilderness;
Blossoms sprout in the desert.
Your prayers break from the lofty apses
Lifting the yoke of slavery.
Soldier for peace, you rail ever against
The scourge of prejudice, poverty,
The butchering of the white rhino…
From the Solomon Islands to Darfur
From Guantanomo to Gaza,
Your umbilical cord is buried again and again
Under the baobab, banyan and olive tree.
You are hewn from the Rock,
From which stream
From Abraham to Augustine,
Desert Fathers to the Dalai Lama,
Mother Theresa to Wangari Maathai.
Today, your basket is filled
With liturgies and offerings,
Sunbeams, songs, plaintive roses
And fruits of love.
And children’s prayers.
* * *
Composed [with love and
Dr Betty Govinden