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Blog

Tutu honoured for 25 years as Chancellor at University of the Western Cape

By: stagedoorscribbler - December 4, 2017

Archbishop Desmond Tutu - Photograph by Hattie Miles

Nobel Peace Prize winning veteran anti-apartheid and social justice campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been honoured by the University of the Western Cape where he served 25 years as Chancellor. 

Given a special service award, the 86-year-old recalled memories of the bleak days of oppression and how the university managed to rise above the constraints put upon it by apartheid.

He  remembered receiving phone calls at his office saying that police had arrived on campus and responding by driving out to the university to support the students.”

"We burst with pride when we saw and heard about all the extraordinary things that the university was doing,” he said. “It was meant to be a third-rate institution but it refused to be defined by the oppressors and it became an incredible institution." 

"We burst with pride when we saw and heard about all the extraordinary things that the university was doing. It was meant to be a third-rate institution but it refused to be defined by the oppressors and it became an incredible institution." 

Those words ‘incredible institution’ could almost describe Tutu himself. Despite age and frailty he fights on, speaking up for the underdog and tirelessly campaigning for social justice.

His university award comes hard on the heels of his condemnation of the growing inequalities and the vast gap that has opened up between rich and poor in South Africa. Speaking during the recent National Day of Prayer at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg he said that, while a  few in South Africa have become very rich a “very large majority have remained in the bondage of poverty.”

They were, he said existing in “squalor, living in shacks in filthy conditions”

He called on all South Africans to unite, saying: “we are all members of one family, the human family, God’s family”

*Clive Conway is chair of the Tutu Foundation UK.