Tutu: lifelong speaker of ‘truth to power’

5 October 2012

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is to give South Africa’s Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu a special once-off award, accompanied by a US$1-million grant, in recognition of his “lifelong commitment to speaking truth to power”.

The award will be presented to Tutu in Dakar, Senegal later this year during the annual Ibrahim Discussion Forum, the foundation said in a statement on Thursday.

Announcing the special award to Tutu, the foundation’s board said it was “motivated by the desire to make an extraordinary grant to an outstanding African civil society champion.

‘One of Africa’s great voices for justice’

“Archbishop Desmond Tutu is and has throughout his life been one of Africa’s great voices for justice, freedom, democracy and responsible, responsive government. In everything he stands for, says, and does, he displays a consistent determination to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak the uncomfortable truth.”

Mo Ibrahim, the Sudan-born billionaire who established the foundation in 2006, added: “Whether one always agrees with Archbishop Tutu or not, his contribution to dialogue, to accountability, and to the debate on Africa’s future has been unparalleled.

“His integrity and moral authority deserve recognition. We hope this award will inspire the next generation to follow Archbishop Tutu’s example and speak truth to power.”

Promoting good governance in Africa

The London-based foundation supports good governance and leadership in Africa, publishing an annnual Ibrahim Index of African Governance, and awarding an annual $5-million prize to democratically elected former African heads of state who have:

  • served only their constitutionally mandated term;
  • left office in the previous three years; and
  • demonstrated excellence in office.

Winners of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership since it was established in 2007 are: Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Festus Mogae of Botswana, and Pedro de Verona Rodrigues Pires of Cape Verde.

According to the foundation, the prize for 2012, which has not yet been adjudicated, will be announced in London on 15 October.

SAinfo reporter