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Tutu gets gift from Dalai Lama

April 20, 2009

April 19, 2009

Pretoria - Archbishop Desmond Tutu received a
spiritual leadership award - and a gift from the
Dalai Lama - at Freedom Park in Pretoria on Saturday.

After Tutu was granted the spiritual leadership
award by an organisation called Humanity's Team,
it was announced that the Dalai Lama had also sent him a gift.

A white scarf was then draped around his
shoulders by a representative of the Dalai Lama.

"Leaders such as Madiba (Nelson Mandela) spent 27
years in prison and humbly reconcile[d] with the
enemy: One would expect them to be bitter.

"[The] Dalai Lama has been in exile for 50 years
and one will expect that by now he should have
been corroded by bitterness - and he is not,"
said Tutu when receiving his award.

Tutu, together with former president FW De Klerk,
pulled out of a peace conference last month after
the South African government refused the Dalai Lama a visa.

The conference was cancelled after they pulled out.

On Saturday night, Tutu walked in to receive his
award while an electric mix of African opera, pop and rock music was performed.

Side-by-side with him was singer Joseph Clark,
while the Gaabo Motho Tenors, Yollandi Nortjie
and traditional dance group Amakhono We Sintu performed on the stage.

Tutu then took off his hat, bowed his head and
proceeded to his seat among dignitaries.

Stands up for the oppressed

The audience who braved the cold evening weather gave him a standing ovation.

Humanity's Team award co-ordinator Steve Farrell
said Tutu was being awarded for the spiritual
leadership he had shown over the years.

"Spiritually he stands up for the oppressed," said Farrell.

Receiving the award, Tutu kept the crowd
laughing, telling them that times had changed since the apartheid era.

"Today you can see mixed couple walking side by
side, even a razor blade could not pass between
them," he said demonstrating just how closely the coupled moved.

Freedom Park CEO Wally Serote said the presence
of Tutu reminded him of some of the reasons why the Freedom Park was created.

Tutu was the chair of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, which recommended that
there was a need for a symbol in South Africa to remember the past.

"The symbol to remember where we come from," said Serote.

The Freedom Park is a memorial site which
commemorates a number of international and national struggle leaders.
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