(TibetanReview.net, Apr25, 2015) – It might not seem possible, and the chains of oppression would seemingly never be broken, but surely, Tibetans will one day return to a free country, said South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu while addressing students, and the public, at the Upper TCV school at Dharamshala, India, on Apr 23 afternoon. The Archbishop had arrived on Apr 18 in connection with a “Book of Joy” project with the Dalai Lama and the TCV event was held to celebrate the Tibetan spiritual leader’s 80th birthday.
Tutu said his own country, South Africa, had lived for many years under a system of injustice and oppression, and that many of its leaders and young people went into exile in a seemingly hopeless situation. And yet, he emphasized, “it happened,” with Nelson Mandela finally returning home in 1995 from Robben Island, with others too being released and the exiles coming home.
He thanked the Indian government and people for having opened their arms to welcome the Tibetan people “because they preserved for us a great treasure that would otherwise have been lost.” He sought to encourage the young Tibetan students, saying, “Look how beautiful you are! One day you’ll be dancing and singing in the streets of Tibet.”
He also said, “One day, you all too will see your beloved Tibet. You will be free from oppression that has driven you here. And the Chinese government will discover that freedom is actually cheaper than oppression.”
Three students made presentations about their emotionally empowering stories about leaving everything behind in Chinese ruled Tibet at very young ages to study in India. Tutu’s daughter, Mpho, stepped forward to hug and comfort one of the girls.
The children sang a song in Tibetan celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday and followed it up with a Tibetan rendition of ‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.’
After a brief speech by the Dalai Lama, Tutu spoke, which was followed by questions from the audience to both.
As this was followed by a singing of ‘We are the world’, Tutu got to his feet and danced and swayed to the music. He then took the microphone and led everyone in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to His Holiness as a large cake ablaze with candles was brought forward. He called for children to come and join His Holiness in blowing the candles out.
The Dalai Lama and Tutu held their last round of discussions for the book on Apr 24. Tutu is scheduled to leave on Apr 25.