In October just passed Angela Gorman CEO of Life for African Mothers was invited to be part on a once in life time opportunity of joining Archbishop Tutu on his visit to Wales.
From the 21-25th October this 82 year man, young at heart and full of passion for life and people graced the people of Wales with his philosophy for peace and partnership.
Read how Angela was involved in his visit in her own words:
From the moment I realised that we had been successful in bringing Archbishop Tutu to Wales and thanks to the Tutu Foundation UK, the whole experience became increasingly unbelievable. I have been given a place on a prestigious mediation course, based at the magnificent Regents College in London, which I am currently undertaking. This is the stuff of dreams!
On Sunday 21st October, I joined fellow students at Regents College to begin the mediation course and during the afternoon, Rev Mpho Tutu arrived to join us. I had met the Archbishop’s daughter during my visit to Cape Town in July so it was lovely to meet up again.
Archbishop Tutu and Rev Tutu joined our group and other guests at Regents College where we were entertained by a harpist and singers, with the Archbishop addressing us with his usual wisdom and wit. He spoke about the gift of Ubuntu which he was bringing to the UK..this is an African philosophy of humanity, which he described as “the glue which held South Africa together during the post-apartheid period. I had the opportunity to speak to him, informing him that I had visited his home when I was in Cape Town and had met his wife, daughter and grand-daughters.
On Wednesday morning, I was picked up at 6.30am to be taken to the BBC Westminster studio and interviewed for BBC Radio Wales. This was arranged because of my role in bringing the Archbishop and representatives of the Tutu Foundation UK to Wales. From the studio, I travelled to Paddington to return home to prepare to welcome our guests later that day.
The coach carrying our special guests arrived at the St David’s Hotel arrived at 5pm and I was in the foyer, along with a representative of the Welsh Government to greet everyone. As the Archbishop approached me, with his hand outstretched he said “Angela you head that wonderful charity which saves mothers in Africa don’t you?” He had clearly been briefed on what Life for African Mothers has achieved.
I couldn’t help but think about how incredibly fortunate I had been to have the opportunity to meet him..not just once, but now in his presence for the fourth time in three days. I smiled as I witnessed his wit and strong character, aware that his is given advice but ultimately makes his own mind up on what he can manage as a man now in his 82nd year.
I returned home to quickly prepare to attend the function which would raise money for three charities whose work supports women and girls in SubSaharan Africa. The special guests were entertained by a welsh choir and at the end of every song, the Archbishop was the first on his feet to applaud. He left the function at around 9.15 as everyone involved with the planning of the visit was mindful that his schedule for Thursday was challenging and he therefore needed to be well rested ahead of his final day in the UK.
The final venue for the Archbishop was the Temple of Peace and Health. Children from St Joseph’s School in Port Talbot, holding up Welsh and South African flags greeted the Archbishop who appears to revel in the company of children, offering high fives and dancing with them before being taken firstly to a “Conversations for Change” workshop..the name given to the Ubuntu initiative, now brought to Wales from Africa. An event was held in the main hall of the Temple of Peace and Health jointly hosted by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and Life for African Mothers.
I presented our charity to the audience of 180 in what we called The Big Conversation, along with my new experiences of Ubuntu and how it could be shared with individuals, organisations and communities in Wales in order to reduce conflict in increasingly pressured environments. Archbishop Tutu joined our guests and spoke to groups, comfortably answering any and all questions asked of him.
Overall, the visit to the UK was viewed as a great success…the initial feedback from the events in Wales appear to show that the visit has been an overwhelming success…with a commitment to continuing the legacy of the visit in relation to Ubuntu, identifying resources which will allow this very different approach to conflict management to be shared, thereby reducing the risk of conflict, whether that be within or between individuals or organisations in Wales. My personal view is that this must happen as part of the legacy of the visit.
Whether Archbishop Tutu ever returns to Wales, given his age, is of course uncertain. For those who have had contact with this amazing individual, it is hoped that their lives will have changed in whatever way they wish them to change. For me, the incredible honor of being instrumental in bringing him to the Wales, then being part of the visit from the start is something which will stay with me forever and which I will be thrilled to tell my grandchildren and anyone else who cares to listen.