Nobel Peace Prize-winning Archibishop Desmond Tutu has passed away at the age of 90 years old.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa released a statement that confirmed his death, saying, “The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa.”
“A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world,” Ramaphosa shared.
Tutu was known for being a leader against apartheid in South Africa, for years urging the government to end the practice of racial segregation. He also championed human and civil rights, and even spoke out for gay rights and climate change.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts against apartheid and was later named chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2009, then US-president Barack Obama honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
On his death of his “mentor, friend, and moral compass”, Obama said in a statement: “Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere. He never lost his impish sense of humor and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries.”
Pope Francis also offered his condolences, commending Tutu’s commitment to the Gospel “through the promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa.”
Tutu had been suffering from prostate cancer since the late 1990s, making frequent visits to the hospital for persistent infections. He is survived by his wife, Nomalizo Leah Tutu, and four children, Trevor, Theresa, Naomi, and Mpho.
Art Daniella Sison