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Let’s face it, next to Nelson Mandela, Anglican Arch-bishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is one of South Africa’s heroes. Yes, if we were to make a superhero movie, a charac-ter should be moulded around him. The man has voiced his opposition to inequities since the 1980s apartheid era to date.
If he is not carrying a torch for human rights, he is fighting poverty. In fact, this man of the cloth has received numerous prestigious prizes, including the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism. Not to mention the Nobel Peace Prize.
With that background it is a dream come true for many youngsters to be taken under his wing as an understudy, because there is no limit to the things one can learn from such an accomplished man.
Enter Tutu’s Children, a series of documentaries in which five young people from different parts of Africa are given access to Tutu and gain awareness of conditions on the continent that need to be improved. All are given tasks to assess whether they are truly pan-African or just hungry to be in the media.
The tasks range from coming up with a delicious dish under tough conditions, to conducting a choir.
The understudies are also challenged intellectually with Afrocentric debates. And Tutu takes note, from their views, to see who is who.
To please him they some-times over-emphasise their points, revealing their true characters.
He then sheds light on the important things in life and how to achieve them.
Since we get to visit the young leaders’ homes, we find out who the “fantastic five” are.
From Tunisia we have Zied Mhirsi, a public health expert and media entrepreneur.
He is the in-your-face type who is very outspoken and provocative. His political highlight to date is being involved in the Tunisian revolution.
From the Ivory Coast, enter beautiful Swaady Martin-Leke. She is a businesswoman who has set up and runs a successful tea company. With her mixed heritage, we get a balanced view of local and international problems.
Lydie Hakizimana Kalisa is from Rwanda and has a passion for spreading literacy in her home country. She is working hard to create an environment fit for learning as Rwanda continues to recover from the genocide.
South Africa has two representatives, Marc van Olst and Ndumiso Luthuli. Van Olst is a private investor intent on helping entrepreneurs start their own businesses.
Luthuli is a lawyer and a businessman whose main preoccupation is social justice. Using his harsh past as a basis for a classic hard-work-pays story, Luthuli hopes to inspire people in dire situations.
Shot by Al Jazeera, the documentary series serves to entertain and educate young Africans about problems the continent is facing and possible ways to solve them.
• Tutu’s Children is on Al Jazeera (DStv channel 406) tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at noon.