Cape Town - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu shared a secret, heaped some praise and doled out plenty of thanks on Monday as he joined the City of Cape Town in announcing a plan for the new location of his legacy foundation.
The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation hopes to move to the historic Granary building in Buitenkant Street in the next 18 months, once the city has approved the new lease and completed its R30 million renovation.
The foundation has been using temporary premises after plans to develop a vacant acre of land near the Cape Town International Convention Centre flopped.
But mayor Patricia de Lille said on Monday that this lease would be cancelled so that the foundation could move to the “more appropriate” 203-year old Granary building, once home to a magistrate’s court and a women’s prison.
“A building so rich in history, once traced with violence and justice, now has the prospect of representing the work of a man who has come to symbolise both hope and peace,” she said.
The city centre clearly holds special significance for Tutu, who was granted Freedom of the City in 1998.
In response to a question about the pro-Palestine march in the city at the weekend, Tutu referred to Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech at the City Hall, and his experience of introducing the newly released Madiba to the crowd.
“I will let you in on a secret. I said to God: ‘I don’t mind if I die today.’”
Tutu praised Capetonians for their peaceful participation in Saturday’s march which he said “could have been swallowed up three times” by the 1989 Peace March. “I think Capetonians can be incredibly proud that we put up a show of concern of that magnitude.”
Tutu said the heritage building could have been used to generate income for the city. But instead, the municipality proposed to allow it to be used by organisations such as his foundation.
His daughter Mpho Tutu, chief executive of the foundation, said: “It is almost impossible to speak of my father’s legacy without mentioning my mother’s ministry. So I am pleased the centre will have both their names.”
She said the building would also contain the archival material of her father’s work, and the stories of other South African peacemakers.
Deputy mayor Ian Neilson said it would take a couple of months for the lease proposal to work its way through the subcouncil and council processes. All renovation work would be done in consultation with a heritage architect.
The foundation’s work includes developing and managing partnerships and legacy-promoting programmes.