STAFF REPORTER

IT WAS a celebration of reconciliation and transformation.

More than 100 people crammed into Christ the King Anglican Church in Sophiatown, Joburg, yesterday to celebrate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday.

He waved happily at the congregation as they sang him a spirited Happy Birthday.

Despite feeling unwell, he did his signature dance as he made his way towards the lectern, from where he showed his lighter side and quirky sense of humour.

“I’ve already had three days of celebrations, so when I was informed that the church was organising something, I thought ooh, now it’s going to be an orgy,” he told the congregation.

He urged South Africans to make use of all opportunities afforded to them and help build a democratic country.

“Now the sky is the limit. There is now no longer anything stopping you from being anything you want to be.

“Reach for the stars and make this country the best in the world, a country where everyone knows they’re welcome,” he said.

The Sophiatown church was made famous by late anti-apartheid activist Trevor Huddleston, who was one of Tutu’s earliest role models, during the 1940s and ’50s, before the enforced removals of black people from the area were carried out.

Also this weekend, Tutu’s home in Vilikazi Street, Soweto, was awarded blue plaque heritage status by the Egoli Heritage Foundation.

Vilikazi Street is the only road in the world which has been home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners – Nelson Mandela’s family also has a house there.