Wearing a black jacket over his purple robes at the V&A Waterfront, Tutu explained to bystanders that God had called Mandela to look at South Africans celebrating his birthday.
“God has just called Madiba to say… ‘I am thinking seriously of sending you back there, but no, I’ve changed my mind. I won’t send you back because you have done wonderful work,” Tutu said, laughing.
“Because it’s not only in South Africa we are celebrating. It’s all over the world. And there is peace in places that know war.”
Tutu then looked to the skies and asked how Mandela was.
He said God was crying and his heart was sore because of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, South Sudan and Syria.
On the heightened conflict between Israel and Palestine, he said: “They are called the Holy Land. It is a special land for God. Our freedom is not really worth much and the freedom of the Palestinians will be the true freedom of the Israelis because they won’t have to worry about the army.”
Tutu and his daughter Mpho arrived with a trolley filled with donated toys for the Masande Educare Centre in Khayelitsha.
Rows of warmly-dressed children with backpacks sat listening to Tutu, not quite sure what to make of his strange laugh and attempts to high-five them.
A while later, he started a 67-minute reading relay at the pop-up Nelson Mandela museum.
“Wake up, mama calls,” was the first line he read from “The Herd Boy”, a book about a boy called Malusi who is tasked with tending cattle.
Tutu would help children paint a canvas before heading to other planned activities.