Cape Town-1551014-Leah Tutu celebrated her birthday by handing over a special award to 101 year old Ethel Leisa. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams
Cape Town-1551014-Leah Tutu celebrated her birthday by handing over a special award to 101 year old Ethel Leisa. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams

Age and love know no boundaries in serving others

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Oct 15, 2015

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Lisa Isaacs

THE Tutu family along with city officials celebrated family matriarch Leah’s 82nd birthday on Wednesday with cake, birthday songs and well wishes.

They also unveiled a plaque and signed a ceremonial lease for the Granary building in the city centre.

The Granary has been leased to the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation for use as a Peace Centre. The centre will be used by the foundation to develop and manage partnerships and legacy-promoting programmes.

A small group, including Leah’s husband Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Mayor Patricia de Lille, sang happy birthday to Leah and tucked into a birthday cake.

“Thank you all for this. I feel part and parcel of all this, although from the safe distance of my kitchen I usually do better, but today I will try my best to say a very warm thank you, all of you. And to my family and the mayor, thank you so much,” she said.

Daughter Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu said both her parents had touched many people.

“My parents have together been an incredible example for people of being steadfast over the long haul. Mpho Tutu also spoke about her father's health. Desmond Tutu, who turned 84 on October 7, has been admitted to hospital twice over the last few months for inflammation and a persistent infection.

“He is being careful of how much he does in a day. He gets fatigued much more easily than he is used to.”

The Legacy Foundation's inaugural Unsung Heroes Award was also handed to 101-year-old Ethel Leisa from Soweto on Wednesday.

The ceremony honoured Leisa for her voluntary work, providing extraordinary service and improving the community at large.

Leisa was born in Limpopo, trained as a nurse at Crown Mines in Joburg and worked at Modderbee Mines Hospital and Good Hope Mission in Limpopo, before joining the Johannesburg City Council at Orlando Clinic.

Leisa was one of the founding members of the African Self Help Crèche in the 1960s and the chairwoman of Khanyile Crèche in Mzimhlophe, Soweto, for 25 years, for which she raised funds and distributed second-hand clothes to the needy.

In the Federation of South African Women, Leisa was an activist who worked closely with her cousin, Lillian Ngoyi, helping Ngoyi to hide from police.

Leisa’s daughter Mpho Mguli said the award was more than an honour for her mother. “For the family, it is something that is indescribable. Especially now that my mother is 101. We are grateful. It is a dream for her,” she said.

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