South Africa’s agricultural community has joined the chorus of tributes following the death that Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. He was 90.
Agriculturists from across the country have paid tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize winner who died at his Cape Town him alongside his wife, Leah. Tutu was lauded as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, as well as an outspoken idealist who never lost faith in the rainbow nation.
“We lost him at a time when the country needs reconciliation more than ever,” said Neo Masithela, the chairperson of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa). He was a champion for reconciliation when there was a need for the agricultural sector to broaden its scope for people who were left out.”
Speaking to Food For Mzansi, Masithela recalled how Tutu once prayed with farmers in the Western Cape who had been battling the worst drought in more than a century. “His words and prayers carried weight,” Masithela said.
In 2005, Tutu also visited the Cedar Citrus farm in Citrusdal in the province to bless their crops before they began harvesting. The farm’s 38 shareholders – 36 of whom were agricultural workers – gave a bakkie-load of oranges to the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town last year.
“Those of us who are still alive should emulate his stature on reconciliation. All role players and participants in the sector should emulate and follow in Tutu’s footsteps … and reunite and reconcile on issues within the sector.”
Tutu, who was described as Mzansi’s moral compass, was also the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and a former Southern African head of the Anglican Church.
“Rest in peace, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. You fought the good fight, completed the race and kept the faith,” said Agri SA president Christo van der Rheede. Now, the heavenly crown of glory awaits you.”
Young farmers salute Tutu
Meanwhile, many young farmers have also reached out to Food For Mzansi to pay tribute to Tutu. They praised him for his fearless leadership, honesty, humility, and for standing for truth and fairness.
“May his soul rest in peace,” said Sineliziwe Fakade, an Eastern Cape grain farmer. “We, as the next generation of this country, definitely take a leaf out of his book to implement in our lives because we, too, want to get to 90 years plus, just like he did.”
Fakade described Tutu as a man of integrity and humility. “uTata was a man who hardly minced his words when he wanted to put a point across. He was unapologetic about a position that he took on a matter.
“Utata was a man who hardly minced his words when he wanted to put a point across. He was unapologetic about a position that he took on a matter.
“As a former Anglican member, I take great lessons from uTata. As farmers, there are some key lessons that we can take from how he went on about his life. Ninety years is no small feat, and we can only appreciate what gave him those years.”
While he does not believe Tutu was a perfect man, Fakade said the peacemaker’s heart was in the right place. “This is something we as agriculturalisst should never forget; what is our start, what is our objective. We may not be perfect at execution, but the most important thing is progress.”
‘Let’s speak up, just like Tutu would’
North West farmer Karabo Rampete urged young farmers to learn from Tutu’s legacy.
“As farmers, it is about time we face the real issues plaguing our sector, especially black farmers. Injustice in this sector is prevailing. We should fight for equal rights because the system is still unequal, and it has its red tapes,” Rampete said.
Just like the late Archbishop, young farmers should be fearless and stand for the truth, believed Rampete.
Meanwhile, Gauteng rooftop farmer Sibongile Cele said the agricultural sector too lost an elder. “He would always worry about farmers. He would even pray for farmers for everything that we would go through. Even in drought situations.
“We will miss him [as an] accountability partner for the nation who would tell our leaders, with no fear of favour, to do the right thing. May his soul rest in peace. Our sincere condolences to Mama Tutu and the whole family.”