A great honour befell Century City as the life-size bronze statue of late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was unveiled in a private event at Long March to Freedom, situated opposite Canal Walk Shopping Centre, on 23 March 2023.
In commemoration of Human Rights Month, Desmond Tutu’s statue will join the other 100 iconic resistance leaders in Long March to Freedom, taking his rightful place in South Africa’s journey to democracy.
Long March to Freedom is a one-of-a-kind monumental procession of life-size bronze statues, telling a 350-year story of South Africa’s liberation history through the lives of the persons represented. Some of those depicted are well known – Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Beyers Naude, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Luthuli, OR Tambo, to name but a few. But there are many more whose stories have been lost over time. It is an immersive and moving experience as visitors connect with the lives of the persons so vividly created in bronze – from the Khoi leaders of the 1600’s, to proud Xhosa and Zulu Kings, warriors, prophets and clerics, to the men and women who led the liberation movements through the dark years of apartheid in South Africa, the procession is a sweeping narrative of pride in the country’s diverse history and cultures. This is the place to rediscover your roots and reflect as the country seeks answers to current socio-economic issues and deep questions of identity.
“It had always been planned to include Desmond Tutu in a place of high honour as soon after his sad passing as possible.” said Dali Tambo, CEO of the National Heritage Project NPC, developers, owners, and operators of the Long March to Freedom. “Local and international visitors ask daily why he isn’t included, and our answer is always – we have the design, but we don’t have the funds to complete the statue. We are deeply grateful, as the rest of the world will be, that Woolworths SA stepped in and agreed to cover the costs of making the bronze. It is our belief that adding this iconic and much-loved individual to Long March to Freedom will raise its profile and encourage other corporates to follow the Woolworths lead and support the ongoing existence of this incredible exhibition” adds Tambo.”
“Woolworths has assisted Long March to sustain for two years now, and we are very happy to see that support culminate in the making of this very beautiful tribute to the Arch. He was a man who occupied a unique position – without being appointed or elected, guided by his faith – as a global moral conscience and human role-model. As a brand, Woolworths SA are both proud and humbled to associate ourselves with the universal values he stood for” says Zinzi Mgolodela, Director, Woolworths Corporate Affairs & Inclusive Justice Initiative.
Janet Jobson, CEO, Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said that they were “thrilled that the Arch is going to be so honoured and included in Long March to Freedom! We are looking forward to collaborating going forward, telling the story of the Arch and all the stalwarts who preceded him.”
Clothed in his trademark purple gown, Tutu’s statue, with open arms and a large smile, stands out amongst the rest of the procession. The realistic depiction of one of South Africa’s favourite icons, were crafted by Cape Town artists Cristina Salvoldi and Tania Lee, and cast by the Loup Fine Art Foundry in White River, Mpumulanga.
The project was also part of a skills-transfer and empower programme for young artists.
Addresses were received from Reverend Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Janet Jobson, CEO of Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Alderman Eddie Andrews, Deputy Mayor, City of Cape Town, Honourable Deputy Minister Ms Nocawe Mafu, Department of Sports, Arts & Culture and Dali Tambo.
The VIP keynote was delivered by Honourable Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Speaker of the National Assembly. In her very moving address, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula highlighted key moments in Tutu’s life, one of which was his speech when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December 1984, while in exile.
“Archbishops Tutu’s extraordinary life filled with courage, love and a passion for justice is celebrated here with this beautiful statue in his honour,” says Chris Blackshaw, CEO of the Century City Property Owners’ Association. “We look forward to local, national and international visitors coming through to Long March to Freedom with renewed interest to see the likeness of the Arch in remembrance of all that he stood for and the vital role that he played in our country’s history.”