“I did not know Peter Gabriel from a bar of soap when I met him for the first time on his friend Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island in the Virgin Islands. But within moments, he had charmed me. I heard him sing his Biko, which still moves me to tears each time I hear it, as we stood round the piano he was playing. He volunteered to give me my first swimming lessons and was a great hit with two of my grandchildren who met him there.
“What is his secret? He has a heart—in our part of the world, we would give him our highest accolade and say, “He has ubuntu.” It is that marvelous quality that speaks of compassion and generosity, about sharing, about hospitality. Peter founded WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance), presenting 50 festivals in more than 40 countries and conducting workshops in schools around the globe. He is a passionate human-rights advocate who participated in the 1988 Human Rights Now tour, and he co-founded Witness, which provides cameras and computers to activists.
“In 2007 he and Branson co-founded the Elders, which Nelson Mandela and his wife Graça Machel launched in Johannesburg on Mandela’s 89th birthday. With our world battered by so many problems—ethnic conflict, oppression of women and children, climate change—their idea was that a group of eminent people would serve as Elders for our global village. A dozen of us—including Kofi Annan, President Jimmy Carter and Fernando Cardoso (with an empty chair for Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma)—have accepted their offer and challenge.
“Peter, 58, has received many awards, including the Man of Peace award given by Nobel Peace laureates. He has ubuntu, and he deserves this latest accolade richly.”
Bishop Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, and founded the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre support and promote peace throughout the world.