Four months ago, on December 26th, 2021, Desmond Tutu passed away in South Africa, the country that saw him be born and grow to become a key figure for the dissolution of Apartheid, the fight for equality and the advocacy of human rights. He left behind an incredible legacy expressed in the actions he performed in terms of politics, religion and economics to change millions of lives, his example as an excellent human being, and the many books that compile his speeches and sermons.
Desmond Tutu is an essential figure for all African people and people of African descent. I was saddened to learn about his death, and also grateful to have had the opportunity to witness his good deeds for humankind. In addition, I felt thankful for his impact on my life, specifically, which happened in a peculiar way. Let me tell you the story:
At some point in the eighties, Desmond Tutu was invited to the city of Birmingham, and a big event was organised at the city’s cathedral for his reception, with broadcasting by the BBC and all. I was asked to direct the cathedral’s choir for the event, for which I was supposed to arrive at 6pm. I did my best, but because I had to pick up a bass for one of the musicians, I arrived a little late and in a rush, causing a minor commotion.
Little did I know, my hurried arrival caught the eye of a young man. He asked about me and promptly found out we had a friend in common, called John, who was happy to introduce him to me. The name of this young man? Michael Stephenson, yes, the same who’d become my long time husband! Unknowingly, Desmond Tutu was instrumental in this happy marriage that has lasted more than thirty years and is still going strong.
I am sure that many other lives were impacted positively in peculiar ways by Desmond Tutu, just like mine. I hope that people remember him and his teachings for many years to come. May he rest in peace.