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World figures laud S.Africa’s Tutu in new book

“Tutu: The Authorised Portrait” was released Monday ahead of Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday, with first-hand perspectives on the South African anti-apartheid hero. Herewith a selection of quotes:

Nelson Mandela:

I believe that God is waiting for the archbishop. He is waiting to welcome Desmond Tutu with open arms. If Desmond gets to heaven and is denied entry, then none of the rest of us will get in!

Mandela and wife Graca Machel:

[Mandela] “I didn’t always agree with him. Even when I disagreed with the archbishop, I kept quiet. I never disagreed with him in public.

[Machel] (laughs) Except that one time… and I thought the archbishop was right. The archbishop criticised you for wearing those printed shirts like the one you’re wearing now. He said a head of state should wear a suit… You said that you “shouldn’t be criticised for wearing wild-print shirts by a man who wears dresses”.

[Mandela] (smiles) Well, on that occasion, he criticised me first!

US President Barack Obama:

Tribune of the downtrodden, voice of the oppressed, cantor of our conscience: Desmond Tutu possesses that sense of generosity, that spirit of unity, that essence of humanity that South Africans know simply as ubuntu.

British businessman Richard Branson:

One of the fun experiences that Peter Gabriel and I had was to teach the Arch to swim. He’s quite a large man, so he’s liable to roll, but he was determined to swim. He forgot to tell me he could walk on water — that would have been a lot easier.

Myanmar opposition activist Aung San Suu Kyi:

I have heard that he calls me his pin-up. That’s very nice of him. I have just sent him a really nice picture… People have been asking me who my hero is and I have always said that it’s Desmond Tutu.

Daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe:

When we were driving, there would be time when my dad was praying. We could talk among ourselves but we wouldn’t talk to him. He was praying. The discipline of his quiet time, he insisted on it. It’s been part of our lives.

Bob Geldof:

He is the smallest giant I’ve ever met.

For those in power, Arch is a complete pain in the arse… He calls it as he sees it and he never shuts up.

The Dalai Lama:

Emotionally and mentally, Bishop Tutu and I are very close. I call him my spiritual older brother … He is always playful, always jovial, always teasing. He is just such a nice person.

Singer Bono:

The Arch himself is full of love and joy and laughter and irreverence. This is not in any way at odds with his seriousness of purpose. It is, like his faith, a source of strength.

Former US president Jimmy Carter:

His willingness to take a chance when he knows he is right, even though he knows it might cause him some grief or criticism from people that he really cares about, shows a special dose of human courage.

Former South African president FW de Klerk:

I developed tremendous respect for his fearlessness. It wasn’t fearlessness of a wild kind. It was fearlessness achored in his deep faith in God.

Sally Muggeridge, a founding member of the Tutu Foundation UK:

Desmond would notoriously and unnecessarily regularly ask a policeman the way, just because he so liked to hear a police officer call him ‘Sir’.

Actor Bill Cosby:

“I don’t know how many great, great, great leaders, on purpose, can get up and actually be funny and he can.”