Tutu 90th birthday T-shirts raise money for charity

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu enters St Georges’ Cathedral for a thanksgiving service on his birthday.

Limited-edition T-shirts, produced for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 90th birthday, will raise money for charity..

Only 200 of the T-shirts, produced by Patta, a global clothing brand will go on sale worldwide. Fifty of them, selling for R1 295 each, will be sold exclusively from the Archive store in Cape Town’s Greenmarket Square. All the proceeds will go to the Tygerberg Hospital Childrens’ Trust (THCT), which supports mother-and-child patients at Tygerberg Hospital.

The struggle icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, known simply the world over as “The Arch”, celebrated his birthday last Thursday October 7.

He and his wife, Leah, attended a thanksgiving service at the St Georges’ Cathedral.

Premier Alan Winde wished him a happy birthday on behalf of the province in a statement.

Leah Tutu enters St Georges’ Cathedral on her husband Desmond Tutu’s birthday.

“As we use this occasion to celebrate The Arch’s life, and all that he stands for, let us also commit to follow in his footsteps: by being compassionate, by being brave, and by standing together, united in our diversity,” said Mr Winde.

At the Iziko Slave Lodge on Thursday morning, the THCT celebrated The Arch’s birthday with the Tutu Tygers, the trust’s youth division, and Patta, an Amsterdam-based streetwear and sneaker brand.

The Arch wasn’t there, but the Tutu Tygers walked over to the cathedral, where they sang Happy Birthday to him as he entered the church.

Tutu Tygers Michael Reddy from Grassy Park, Jenileen McKay from Parow Valley and Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust goodwill ambassador Tarren Fortuin from Bellville show off their T-shirts designed by Patta.
A commemorative poster designed by global streetwear brand Patta.

The Tutu Tygers wore Patta T-shirts sporting a colourful graphic of The Arch on the back. The same graphic was on commemorative posters designed by Patta.

The Tutu Tygers derive their name from the Trust’s long-standing patrons, The Arch and his wife, who, in 2001, supported the creation of the trust and who continue to back its efforts to provide high-quality care to Tygerberg Hospital’s paediatric patients.

Trustee Marlene le Roux said The Arch had taught people to live a full life, even in the harshness and brutality of apartheid.

THCT trustee Marlene le Roux with Tutu Tygers on the steps of St George’s Cathedral.

“He was never silenced and uncomfortable in any part of our history, and, sometimes, he needed to step in to be the voice when leaders were incarcerated during the apartheid era.

“To be a leader is to give of yourself without asking anything from society, to speak up against evil and for humanity and for ubuntu.”

The Arch was a peoples’ person and the world should stop treating him as a celebrity, as he was a person for the people, she said.

The trust’s CEO, Jason Falken, said The Arch and Leah Tutu had been supporters for more than 20 years.

“The Arch is 90 years old – that’s a monumental life for anyone. We have four generations of South Africans here today. What is this generation doing? We can’t just look back and say that The Arch has liberated us from apartheid – this was a long time ago. What are we doing today? What are we leaving for our youth?

“This is a very important day for us. We are choosing to celebrate his birthday with him to show him that somewhere, we are picking up the baton and carrying it forth with the light that he has shone for us for many years.”

The Tutu Tygers and all at the trust were committed to continuing the Tutus’ legacy through their care and support for Tygerberg Hospital’s children, he said.

Katlego Mlambo from Johannesburg, is one of the incoming Tutu Tygers.

Katlego Mlambo, one of the new Tutu Tygers said: “It sounds very cliche, but a tiger is… the king of the jungle, and I think that’s what the world needs now: we need ambassadors and youngsters to be kings and queens, to try and make this world a better place.”

Edson Sabajo, the co-founder of Patta in the Netherlands, said The Arch had fought for liberation not only in South Africa but the whole world.

“The Dutch did horrible things in the past, so now we want to help take things forward.

“Everyone wants to go to another country to make something of themselves, but as South Africans, you have all the power and the expertise around every corner – you can be better. I am glad I could help with pushing a culture forward that icons like Tutu have fought so hard for.”

THCT’s goodwill ambassador and actress Quanita Adams congratulated The Arch on his birthday.

“Happy birthday, Arch… 90! What an incredible age.You’ve been knocking it out the park and bowling us over. Thank you so much for being a barometer for us.

“You’ve been our compass, you have been the gauge that we set our standards by. We thank you, we love you, happy birthday. I hope that you find a way to celebrate today and have lots of cake.”