July 18, 2011

Desmond Tutu praises Leicester for multicultural harmony

by Jan Harris

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was conferred with an honorary doctorate by the University of Leicester on Friday, in recognition of his work to improve race relations.

He was instrumental in ending the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and has also fought for an end to homophobia, slavery and sexism.

In his acceptance speech the Archbishop said that Leicester was an ‘icon of fellowship, comity, different faiths, different ethnicities’.

He said that the city was an “example to a world that is hungry for togetherness.”

At the ceremony, Professor Gordon Campbell of Leicester University said: “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”.

Archbishop Tutu also told the graduates that they must be God’s partners in tackling hunger, and changing a world where there is extreme economic inequality, a theme that is particularly appropriate when millions are at risk of famine across the horn of Africa.

He said: “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’.”

Separately, the Archbishop has also given his support to a campaign to stop the sale of the Africa Centre in London’s Covent Garden.

The centre, which was opened by Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president, in 1964, was once a place which brought all aspects of Africa’s diverse culture under one roof.

However, earlier this year it was revealed that the charity board appointed to care for the centre were secretly planning to sell it to property developer Capco.

A campaign to save the building is being led by Chipo Chung, a social activist and actress of Zimbabwean origin.

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