Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ontlametse Phalatse to be honoured

The late Ontlametse Phalatse will be honoured by Rotary International South Africa. Picture: File

The late Ontlametse Phalatse will be honoured by Rotary International South Africa. Picture: File

Published Sep 27, 2023


Pretoria - The late Archbishop Desmond and Ontlametse Phalatse are to be honoured for their passion for education and humanitarian achievements.

The event, expected to take place today at a primary school named after the Ontlametse in Hebron, Pretoria, will be hosted by Rotary International South Africa.

The organisation has raised funds worldwide to achieve the dreams of Tutu and Phalatse. Speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, Rotary’s Shirley Downie said the duo had different dreams before their deaths.

She said: “The Arch, as he was fondly known, wished to give 20 million Tutudesks by 2025 to primary school learners in Africa who do not have a desk!

The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be honoured by Rotary International South Africa. Picture: File

“Ontlametse Phalatse, recognised worldwide, was an inspiring young lady who outlived her survival date by four years. She was diagnosed with progeria, a disease that causes rapid ageing,” she said.

Downie vowed that Tutu’s dream of giving 20 million learners a laptop was to be realised. Tutu was known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, in both cases being the first black African to hold the position.

He died in 2021.

Phalatse, who was known as the “Queen of positivity”, died in 2017 at the age of 18. She rose to fame when a documentary was made of her life.

She used her new-found fame to motivate people to get on with their lives no matter what the circumstances were.

Downie said: “Rotary is a global network of 1.4 million neighbours, friends, leaders, and problem solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”

She said the focus area was education and literacy.

“Rotary wishes to recognise both Archbishop Tutu and Ontlametse Phalatse by supporting the learners of southern Africa with Tutudesks. The Rotary International Districts and many Rotary clubs in South Africa, the USA, Australia and the UK have raised funds to ensure that 660 learners at the school named after Ontlametse Phalatse receive a writing desk each on September 27 – today,” she said.

The school was named after Phalatse who matriculated there before her death.

“Other schools in South Africa have also received desks and more will be distributed in the future. The project is a collaboration of the Rotary districts of southern Africa and the Desmond Tutu Tutudesk Campaign. Prior to his death, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the patron of the Tutudesk Campaign,” Downie said.

An estimated 95 million children in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by classroom desk shortages, which has a direct, ongoing and extremely negative impact on their literacy development and academic performance.

“The Tutudesk provides children in need with a mobile, steady and stable desk, enabling an immediate, lasting and positive impact on the child’s literacy development and overall academic performance in under-resourced schools in southern Africa,” Downie said.

Pretoria News