'THE HUMAN FAMILY'
On Feb 11 1990, I sat on the Grand Parade opposite the City Hall in Cape Town with my family waiting for the arrival of Nelson Mandela, who was to be released from prison after 27 years. The sun had already begun to set when Mandela emerged on the balcony with Archbishop Tutu by his side.
We were overjoyed. We knew the democracy my family had fought for was coming, but the joy was tainted with a sense of loss, of the sacrifices we had made and abuses we had suffered.
Nearly 20 years later, I had my first opportunity to photograph the Archbishop at this house. Back then, I was too painfully shy to interact with him much, but over the next decade I had the privilege of photographing him many times for Reuters and for his foundation, so I got to know him better.
His courage in defending social justice, even at great cost to himself, always shone through - and not just during apartheid. He often fell out with his erstwhile allies at the ruling ANC over their failures to address the poverty and inequalities that they promised to eradicate.
At St George's Cathedral in Cape Town on April 23, 2014, I photographed Tutu who was still angry and hurt four months after the ANC had tried to bar him from Mandela's funeral. The party had relented only after a public outcry.
"I will not vote for them," he said of the ANC.
"I say it with a very sore heart. We dreamt about a society that really made people feel they mattered. You can't do that in a society where you have people who go to bed hungry, where many of our children still attend classes under trees."
I was always taken by the way Tutu greeted people equally whether they were heads of state or homeless on the street. He regularly visited a home for the elderly, taking cake and treats for the residents. I looked on as he shook hands with around 40 of them.
When I had to cancel an appointment with him because my son was ill with an appendicitis back in 2016, Tutu had a gift box sent to the hospital.
His wife Leah told me a story over tea about how, when he was young, he gave up his jersey to another child accompanying a blind man, shivering in the cold, knowing he risked a scolding for returning home without it.
That was the Tutu we all knew and loved.
To me, all of these things show the Arch was sincere when he spoke of "Ubuntu", a Zulu word representing a belief that all human beings are connected by a universal bond that demands sharing and compassion.
"We have been intended to exist as members of one family, the human family," he once said, adding that when we fail to act accordingly, "we do so at great risk to ourselves".
Archbishop Tutu took many risks during his life, but that was not one of them. - Reuters