DAKAR — South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu accepted a one-off special award from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation on Saturday in Senegal recognising his lifelong commitment to speaking truth to power.
REPORT BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
The award was presented personally to Tutu during the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s annual governance weekend, which focuses this year on youth, a topic close to the archbishop’s heart. The award is accompanied by a grant of $ 1 million.
Presenting the award to Tutu, Grammy Award–winning Beninoise singer-songwriter and activist Angelique Kidjo said: “With infectious humour, but also steely resolve, Archbishop Tutu has worked tirelessly to promote peace, human rights and to champion the oppressed.
“He continues to show himself to be the scourge of injustice, ready to rock the boat if necessary and speak out against those political leaders who he believes have let down their citizens and wider world.
“For throughout his life, he has shown himself unafraid ‘to speak truth to power’ which is why he was such a worthy recipient of this special award this evening.”
Upon receiving the award, Tutu gave thanks to the “real heroes” who he says had inspired and supported him throughout his life, including the citizens of South Africa who did not repudiate him when he campaigned for sanctions against apartheid South Africa; Trevor Huddleston, the anti-apartheid activist who visited him in hospital; The Elders, who work together with Tutu for peace and human rights; his mother, who showed an incredible caring for other people; and his wife, about whom he said: “I would not be where I am if it were not for Leah”.
Tutu ended his acceptance speech with an address to young people around the world.
He said: “Young people really are dreamers. They dream of a better kind of world. They dream that we can make poverty history.
“And they were at the forefront of the Arab Spring. Don’t be affected by the cynicism of ‘oldies’ like us. Go ahead and dream of a different kind of world. You young people are our hope.”
The special award to Tutu is separate from the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which was not awarded this year.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation invests in governance and leadership to catalyse Africa’s transformation.
By providing tools and advocating for progressive leadership and responsible management, the Foundation works to bring about meaningful change in Africa.