Archbishop Desmond Tutu's wife and 'great enabler' Leah turns 87

14 October 2020 - 11:19 By Sipokazi Fokazi
Leah Tutu celebrates her 87th birthday on Wednesday - a week after her husband turned 89.
Leah Tutu celebrates her 87th birthday on Wednesday - a week after her husband turned 89.
Image: Twitter

A week after the nation celebrated the 89th birthday of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the spotlight has shifted to his wife, Leah “Nomalizo”, as she celebrated her 87th birthday on Wednesday.

The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation wished her a happy birthday, describing Leah as the Archbishop’s “great enabler”, who has been brightening his life since her school days and throughout their marriage of 65 years.

“Nomalizo, as she is known to her circle of close friends in Soweto, has been the archbishop’s great enabler. She has enabled him in a myriad of ways to perform his ministry of courageous healing,” said CEO of the foundation, Piyushi Kotecha, in a statement.

“She provided the comforting sanctuary of a family home, took jobs to augment income in tough times, and famously completed a mechanics course so she could do running repairs on the car, leaving him to travel in peace.

“But she does more than comfort - with a cocktail of quick-wittedness, street smarts, kitchen politics and sharp repartee, she keeps him on his toes.”

“We are all entitled to our wrong opinions,” says a bumper sticker she purchased and displayed on the mantlepiece.

Born into the Shenxane family in 1933 in Krugersdorp, Leah met Tutu at college and they married in 1955. A qualified teacher and nurse, she is also an activist who helped establish SA's first trade union for domestic workers.

“On behalf of all at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, we wish Mama Leah, our co-founder, a fabulous and blessed birthday,” said Kotecha.

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