Celebrating Excellence

On reading that Desmond Tutu was awarded the prestigious Templeton prize this year, my South African heart beat with pride.
This is the world’s largest monetary award, conferred on living individuals who advance the spiritual insight of humanity by the foundation of philanthropist John Templeton.

Last last year it was awarded to the Dalai Lama – and in 2004 it was awarded to Professor George Ellis – a mathematician, cosmologist and A-rated scientist at the University of Cape Town.

In his acceptance speech, Ellis said: “In my own country there were many times in the past when it was rational to give up all hope for the future – to assume that the nation would decay into a racial holocaust that never happened. It did not occur because of the transformative actions of those marvellous leaders Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, confounding the calculus of rationality. A theme in my writing is … what is the issue of true morality … (and how) the deep foundation of security is based on transforming your enemies into friends … that can only be achieved by the kind of sacrificial practices exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu, for this is the only way to touch the hardened heart’’.

The Cape Times 2004 editorial wrote ”South Africa can rejoice with him on his achievement of international recognition. His work may seem abstract yet its social value is immense. We honour him.’’ This is why I found it strange that Tutu’s award appeared only on page 7 of Friday’s edition (05/04/13), with no mention of a previous South African having made it onto this illustrious stage which has been going since 1972, where the monetary value of the prize exceeds that of the Nobel prizes.
It made me question why we do not champion local award-winners. Read this for another angle.

Let’s celebrate excellence in our own back yard and honour them both. From the roof tops!
While we’re about it, why not take a stroll around Nobel Square in the V&A Waterfront and light a metaphorical candle to our four Nobel peace prize laureates: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela?

PS George Ellis is no relation – just someone I admire enormously – Marion Ellis

Comments are closed.