Desmond Tutu, South African anti-apartheid campaigner dies aged 90

Desmond Tutu, South African anti-apartheid campaigner dies aged 90
In 1984, Tutu was awarded the Nobel prize for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system. [Photo: Getty Images]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who helped in South Africa’s struggle to end apartheid has died at 90.

According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Archbishop Tutu’s death marked “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans”.

Tutu has been in ill health for years. While he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s, in 2013 the archbishop underwent tests for a persistent infection, and he was admitted to hospital several times over the years.

During his life, Tutu preached against the tyranny of the white minority but his fight for a fairer South Africa never ended, calling the Black political elite to account with as much feistiness as he had the white Afrikaners.

“Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” said a statement by Dr. Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and Co-ordinator of the Office of the Archbishop.

He was named chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission following Nelson Mandela becoming the president of South Africa.

“He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a statement. “His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies.”

In 1984, he was awarded the Nobel prize for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system.

Ordained as a priest in 1960, Tutu served as bishop of Lesotho from 1976-78, assistant bishop of Johannesburg, and rector of a parish in Soweto. In 1985, he became Bishop of Johannesburg and made Archbishop of Cape Town the following year, making him the first black to hold the position.

He officially retired from public life in October 2010 but continued to speak out on a range of moral issues, including accusing the West in 2008 of complicity in Palestinian suffering by remaining silent.

In 2013, Tutu declared his support for gay rights, saying he would never “worship a God who is homophobic”.

The same year, he also declared that he would no longer vote for the ANC, stating that while the party was “very good at leading us in the struggle to be free from oppression”, it had done a poor job in countering inequality, violence, and corruption.

Thabo Makgoba, the current archbishop of Cape Town and metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa said that the church will plan Tutu’s funeral and memorial services.

“Desmond Tutu’s legacy is moral strength, moral courage and clarity,” Makgoba said in a statement. “He felt with the people. In public and alone, he cried because he felt people’s pain. And he laughed — no, not just laughed, he cackled with delight when he shared their joy.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby hailed Tutu as a “a prophet and priest” while UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted Tutu’s “critical” role in the “struggle to create a new South Africa”

“We are better because he was here,” Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, said. Palestine Liberation Organisation official Wasel Abu Youssef said Tutu was “one of the biggest supporters” of the Palestinian cause.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born of mixed Xhosa and Motswana heritage to a poor family on October 7 1931 in Klerksdorp in what was then the Transvaal. His father was a teacher, his mother a domestic servant. Tutu married Leah Nomalizo Shinxani in 1955.

Source: The Postdale Daily and News Agencies

PD Admin

Staff writer, The Postdale Daily

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