Archbishop Tutu praises 'iconic' Leicester
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was honoured today with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Leicester.
The award presented before graduating students and their families from around the world was made in recognition for his work in the field of race relations.
Archbishop Tutu was presented with his degree by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester Professor Sir Robert Burgess. Professor Burgess said: “There can be no greater role model for our graduands from across the world than Archbishop Desmond Tutu. His wisdom, courage and integrity are an inspiration to us all and we are delighted to confer the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters on such a great global figure.
“Desmond Tutu is an inspirational person who adds much to our understanding of diversity and is a champion of equality. He is an embodiment of the University’s position as being ‘elite without being elitist’.”
The Public Orator at the ceremony Professor Gordon Campbell said: “It was Dr Tutu who coined the phrase ‘rainbow nation’ to denote the ethnic mix of South Africa, and we in Leicester live in Britain’s rainbow city, the most diverse city in the nation; we stood with the people of South Africa during the long years of apartheid, and in 1986 acquired a Nelson Mandela Park. Dr Tutu lives a life energised by Christian belief, and Leicester, in the words of our Bishop, is the most believing city in England.”
Addressing the degree congregation, Archbishop Tutu said: “All of you are wonderful people and all of you are beautiful people, and you are very, very clever people. It is a very great privilege to have been awarded this degree.
“I wanted to become a doctor; I wasn’t able to take up my place at medical school because we did not have enough money for the fees. The closest I’ve ever got to graduating as a doctor is to come and be here with all of you. Congratulations to all of you who have done splendidly well. I gather there are people that got firsts, and people who got upper-seconds - and there might have been people who got something they call ‘Desmonds’... congratulations!
“I do want to give a very warm tribute to the city of Leicester. You are really an icon of fellowship, comity, different faiths, different ethnicities. You are an example to a world that is hungry for togetherness.
“You know, we have an extraordinary God who is omnipotent. But this God extraordinarily, paradoxically, is also impotent. When someone is hungry we do not see samosas floating down from heaven. If that hungry person is to be fed this omnipotent God waits on us to be God’s partners so that the miracle of feeding the hungry happens.
“You who are graduating today, I bid you dream - be as idealistic as you can ever be. Dream God’s dream. Dream as you go out into a world that is so unequal. Dream of a different world. Ours is a world where children die of preventable disease because they cannot afford very cheap vaccines, inoculations. Ours is a world where many go to bed hungry when others wonder what they are going to do with their surpluses. Ours is a world - crazy. We spend billions on what we call defence budgets. Billions. Obscene amounts. We know a small fraction would enable children everywhere in the world to have clean water to drink, enough food to eat, decent homes and affordable healthcare.
“We need you to dream God’s dream of a world, a different kind of world, a compassionate world, a caring world, a sharing world. God says, ‘I have no-one, except you.’ God says, ‘Help me, please help me to realise my dream.’”
This is an edited version of Archbishop’s address to the University of Leicester degree congregation on Friday 15 July.