As Tutu celebrates milestone, his country seems ever further from peaceful future once envisioned

As South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu marks his 90th birthday Thursday, a portrait of him recently defaced by racist graffiti has been restored by the artist, who added a celebratory message, AP reports.

“Happy Birthday Tata Desmond Tutu! Father of the Rainbow Nation,” using the Xhosa word for father — which was added to the large mural of Tutu by artist Brian Rolfe.

“At first I was so angry when the racist slur was painted on the mural,” Rolfe told The Associated Press.

“But then I thought the only way to respond is with a positive message. So I used the same space where the graffiti was to add the birthday message,” said Rolfe who originally painted the landmark mural in downtown Cape Town in 2017.

“I wanted to thank him for who he is and what he has done for South Africa,” he said.

The mural enlivens a wall of the Rainbow Academy which offers training to young artists from disadvantaged communities.

© Copyright LaPresse