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Arch for an Arch honouring Tutu is unveiled in Cape Town

By: stagedoorscribbler - October 26, 2017

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photograph by Hattie Miles

It was wonderful that Desmond Tutu was able to celebrate his 86th birthday earlier this month by attending the unveiling of the long awaited monument in his honour - the Arch for an Arch - in Cape Town.

The structure, which is  positioned between St George's Cathedral and Parliament, is a tribute to Tutu's contribution to peace and reconciliation. The Arch represents his life and legacy as South Africa’s moral compass for more than 50 years.

Made up of 14 wooden beams arched to form a dome, the  project was commissioned by Design Indaba and sponsored by Liberty Group SA. It was created by Nordic architectural firm Snøhetta.

According to Design Indaba CEO Ravi Naidoo the symbolism and significance of the arches repesent the 14 chapters of the  Constitution and will serve as a  constant reminder about the need to uphold its values. 

In her dedication of the Arch to Tutu, De Lille said “The [South African] constitution is considered one of the most progressive in the world, and similarly to how an arch relies on a keystone to avoid collapse, so too do South African freedoms rely on the Constitution.”

In a short speech Tutu thanked Design Indaba and the City of Cape Town for the tribute, saying how touched he and his wife, Leah, were by the honour. He briefly outlined the history of the cathedral, highlighting his personal memory of the 1989 Cape Town peace march when 30,000 South Africans of all races, religions and cultures gathered to begin toppling the “walls of unfreedom”.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. We are who we are because of you,” The Arch concluded.

The presentation also featured a video message from the Dalai Lama, who paid tribute to his close friend and fellow freedom fighter of his impact on millions of people’s minds… “The only remedy you see [for a] problem is compassion, forgiveness, love, tolerance… [and] you always… teach these values and you yourself practise these things.” he said.

*A smaller version of the structure will be unveiled on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg in December 2017