One of the more moving tributes paid to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu on social media on Sunday came from former Springbok prop Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira.
The now retired Zimbabwe-born Springboks great has previously recounted how Archbishop Tutu had provided spiritual support while his application for South African residency was making its way through the South African administrative system.
Although Mtawarira was fully eligible to play for South Africa under World Rugby rules, his Zimbabwean nationality was a sticking point in 2009 and 2010. However, he was eventually cleared to tour with the Boks in the November 2009 Tests, with Tutu playing a significant role in assisting this process.
In an extract from Mtawarira’s autobiography, he shared this wonderful memory of his interaction with Tutu, which provided further detail about the role he played in his career.
“During those three weeks when the Boks were playing at home and I was shuttling between Regan [Hoskins] and Michelle at home affairs, I started to think that this was probably not going to work out. But at the very moment when I was about to give up, I received a phone call that changed everything.
“I got a call from a friend saying: “Hey, Beast, the Arch wants to speak to you. Make sure your phone is on.”
“Later that afternoon my phone rang, I answered and a voice said: “Is that Beast? It’s the Arch here. It was none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the line.”
“He (Archbishop Tutu) said: “I love what you do for South Africa. Every time you get the ball the crowd shouts, “Beeaaassst!” and I think it’s fantastic. You’re a great ambassador and a role model, you represent us and this whole thing that’s happened to you is unfair and unjust’,” wrote Mtawarira in his autobiography.
“The Arch knew I was a man of God and said: ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to sort this out for you. Keep on training and playing well and leave it to me; I will resolve this. You will get your citizenship and you’ll be able to play for the Springboks’.”
After hearing of Archbishop Tutu’s passing, Beast took to twitter to express his grief, posting:
Rest well Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Thank you for being the epitome of what humanity should stand for 🙏🏽❤.
— Tendai Mtawarira (@Beast_TM) December 26, 2021
A huge figure of the fight against apartheid, the archbishop passed away this Sunday at the age of 90 years.