Desmond Tutu Marks 80th Birthday Without Dalai Lama

Desmond Tutu Marks 80th Birthday Without Dalai Lama

The Archbishop of South Africa called the government “worse” than the apartheid regime for not granting his pal a visa in time.

Published October 8, 2011

Was it a happy birthday for South African Archbishop and anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu?


Tutu rang in his 80th birthday Friday with a celebration in Cape Town with nearly 500 guests. Missing from the fold was Tutu’s close friend the Dalai Lama, who wasn’t granted a visa in time to attend. Tutu admonished the South African government for “abusing its power” and giving in to pressure from China, who views the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist.


More joyous, 450 guests gathered to celebrate Tutu’s big day at St George's Cathedral, the church that played an important role in the South African struggle against apartheid. Guests included Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe; Graca Machel, the wife of former president Nelson Mandela; and rock singer Bono of the band U2. Noticeably absent was Tutu’s close pal the Dalai Lama, who cancelled after the South African government failed to grant the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa. Distraught over the oversight, Tutu lambasted the African National Congress in a nationally televised interview Tuesday. "I am warning you, one day we will start praying for the defeat of the ANC," he said.


The former archbishop of Cape Town accused the ANC for giving in to pressure from China, South Africa’s largest trading ally, who accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking Tibet's secession from the country. The South African government denied Tutu’s claims.


Tutu’s birthday Friday came just one day after the release of the new tome, “Tutu: The Authorized Portrait." In it, the Dalai Lama lauds Tutu for supporting Tibetans "even when it meant criticizing his own government." Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his part in the struggle against apartheid.

Written by Britt Middleton


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