South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu dies at 90

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his activism against the segregated racist “apartheid” regime, died this Sunday at the age of 90 in Cape Town (southwest), official sources reported.

In a statement issued by the South African government, the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, confirmed the death of the respected Anglican religious and sent his condolences to the Tutu family.

“The death of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of loss in our nation’s farewell to a generation of prominent South Africans who bequeathed us a liberated South Africa,” the president said in the text.

The president described Tutu as a “peerless patriot” and a “man of extraordinary intellect” who maintained his integrity in the fight against “apartheid forces.”

Even in a democracy, Ramaphosa noted, Tutu maintained the leadership’s “vigor” and “vigilance” to hold institutions accountable.

The death was also confirmed by the current Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, who remembered the Nobel Peace Prize as someone who wanted all human beings to live in “freedom, peace and joy.”

“On behalf of the Anglican Church of South Africa, the entire community of faith and, dare I say, on behalf of millions (of people) throughout South Africa, Africa and the world, I send our deepest condolences his wife, Nomalizo Leah, his son, Trevor Tamsanqa, and his daughters, Thandeka, Nontombi and Mpho, “Makgoba said in a statement.

“(Tutu) called evil by name wherever he saw it no matter who was committing it. He defied systems that degraded humanity. He could unleash a righteous fury on those – especially the powerful – who inflicted suffering (.. .) When the perpetrators of evil experienced a true change of heart, he followed God’s example and was willing to forgive, “he added in the message.

Awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against the brutal racist oppression of apartheid, Tutu is considered one of the key figures in contemporary South African history.

His career has been marked by a constant defense of human rights, something that led him to distance himself on numerous occasions from the ecclesiastical hierarchy to openly defend positions such as homosexual rights or euthanasia.

In recent years, he had stayed away from public life due to his advanced age and health problems that he had dragged on for years, including prostate cancer.

His last public appearance had been in brief video images broadcast on his 90th birthday (last October 7), an anniversary that his foundation celebrated with a virtual conference in which, among others, the highest Tibetan spiritual leader participated. , the Dalai Lama, the Mozambican activist and widow of Nelson Mandela Graça Machel or the former Irish president Mary Robinson.

Tutu, the voice of the voiceless that made apartheid tremble from the Church

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a world icon of human rights who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his tireless fight against the racist system of “apartheid”, died today in Cape Town (Southwest) at the age of 90 after a lifetime dedicated to defending the oppressed.

South Africa will remember him forever for his kind laugh, for acting as a moral compass in the darkest times and for throwing himself on his back, along with leaders like Nelson Mandela, the thorny task of reconciling the nation after the conquest of democracy (1994 ).

“When the missionaries came to Africa, we had the land and they had the Bible. Then they said: ‘let’s pray’. And we obediently closed our eyes and when we said ‘amen’ at the end and opened our eyes, they had the land and we had the bible. It seems like a bad exchange but we are forever in debt to these men and women, “says one of his best-known quotes.

Born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, a small town southwest of Johannesburg, Tutu wanted to be a doctor but his family’s lack of resources led him to train as a teacher, his father’s profession.

From 1954 to 1957 he served as a school teacher and was not ordained an Anglican pastor until 1960, after having studied Theology.

The next decade and a half, with a stay in London in between, he spent it devoted to study and in 1975 he was appointed dean of the Anglican cathedral in Johannesburg, a position that was accessed for the first time by a black man.

There he settled in the ghetto district of Soweto, where he witnessed one of the most convulsive stages of apartheid, with the 1976 student protests – in which more than 600 people died, most of them young – as the greatest exponent.

In 1977 he was appointed bishop of Lesotho and, a year later, he was appointed secretary general of the South African Council of Churches.

At that time, he began to openly express his support for the Black Consciousness movement and intensified his anti-apartheid activism to become a figure of international resonance.


“Apartheid, separate development or whatever you call it, is evil … It is anti-Christian and unscriptural. If someone proves otherwise, I will burn my bible and stop being a Christian, ”Tutu protested to apartheid officials in 1982.

For his tireless struggle, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, two years before he became the first black to hold the Anglican Archbishopric of Cape Town (Southwest).

He was in charge of it until 1996, with apartheid dismantled and South Africa turned into a democracy led by Mandela.

As president, “Madiba” – a local nickname for Mandela, who described the archbishop as “the voice of the voiceless” – put the difficult task of chairing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body charged with exposing the atrocities committed during apartheid.

Tutu and Mandela, in fact, had resided on the same street in Soweto, which is today one of the biggest tourist attractions in Johannesburg, to the pride of South Africans, who boast that no other country has a street with two Nobel Peace Prize winners. .

A year after retiring as leader of the South African Anglican Church, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began receiving treatment, but in the following years he suffered several relapses.


In the last stage of his life, Tutu concentrated his efforts on social issues and global campaigns such as the promotion of the Alliance of Civilizations (2005) – an initiative to advance the dialogue between the Islamic and Western world and combat extremism. – or the fight against climate change.

Tutu also did not hesitate to raise his voice against the corruption of the new South African powers in democracy, against the human rights violations carried out in Africa by autocratic leaders such as Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) and against the more rigid positions of the Anglican Church itself on issues such as euthanasia or homosexuality.

Although in October 2010 he announced his retirement from public life and health complications brought him to hospital several times in the years since, Tutu occasionally participated in events and received numerous international accolades.

His retired life did not prevent him, for example, from celebrating with the Springboks – nickname of the South African rugby team and one of the great passions of the Archbishop Emeritus – the world title won in Japan in 2019.

In 2021, he had set an example by being among the first to be vaccinated against covid-19 when the campaign was opened to the general population and voting in the municipal elections on November 1.

His last public words had been in a short video broadcast on his 90th birthday (October 7) during a virtual conference in his honor in which, among others, the highest Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and the Mozambican activist and widow of Nelson Mandela Graça Machel.

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South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu dies at 90