Tutu a ‘Rock Star’ on His 80th Birthday

Posted October 7th, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Parishioners, politicians and even rock stars gathered at Cape Town's historic St. George's Cathedral Friday to help wish Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu a happy 80th birthday.

Hundreds of people lined the pews Friday in the church where Archbishop Tutu once preached against apartheid.

U2 front man Bono serenaded the archbishop and called Tutu the only rock star in the room.

Nelson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, and South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe also attended.

Archbishop Tutu thanked Motlanthe for attending despite “some of the hiccups.”

Earlier this week, Tutu blasted the administration of President Jacob Zuma for refusing to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, who had also been scheduled to attend the birthday festivities. Tutu said Mr. Zuma's government was worse than the country's former apartheid regime.

In his birthday greeting to the archbishop, President Zuma said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is admired by “thousands.”

South Africa has a population of almost 50 million.

Many South Africans believe China pressured the country to block the Dalai Lama's visit.

China is a key trading partner, but South African authorities deny there was any pressure.

Deputy President Motlanthe recently returned from a diplomatic visit to China, where authorities praised his “valuable support” on the Tibetan issue.

The Dalai Lama originally applied for a travel visa in June. He had been scheduled to deliver the inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the University of the Western Cape on Saturday.