A visit to India makes Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s heart swell with gratitude for our freedom heroes.

“I think of all the wonderful people from India whenever I am here. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and a lot of other people who helped us become free,” the anti-apartheid hero told The Hindu here in an exclusive chat.

Archbishop Tutu, who remains one of Africa’s greatest voices for justice and freedom, was in Kochi as part of the ‘Semester at Sea’ voyage, aimed at promoting peace and understanding around the world. It was a great feeling “being here in this country,” he said.

Archbishop Tutu was all praise for India’s victory over Australia by an innings and 135 runs to lead the Border-Gavaskar trophy 2-0. “I came in the week when you beat Australia by an innings and some runs. You played very good cricket,” he said.

In a lighter vein, he remarked: “I could speak to you but I won’t. Because these guys will take a picture,” he said pointing towards The Hindu ’s lensman, who was fast clicking the winner of the Gandhi Peace Prize.

According to the ‘Semester at Sea’ website, the Archbishop, 80, Tutu will bring his expertise and humanitarian insight to its Spring 2013 voyage.