South African archbishop emeritus and human rights activist Desmond Tutu died this Sunday, December 26. “The voice of the voiceless”, as described by Nelson Mandela, was diagnosed years ago with prostate cancer and suffered several relapses.
“The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of mourning in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have left us a liberated South Africa,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said this Sunday, December 26.
The African country has lost one of its greatest human rights defenders. Desmond Tutu was a fighter for the oppressed during ‘apartheid’ (1948-1992), the brutal regime of oppression of the white minority against the black majority in South Africa.
Winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for racial justice and LGBT rights and a retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu has passed away at the age of 90.
Desmond Tutu, the face of the anti-apartheid movement
South Africa mourns the departure of that kindly laughing man and spiritual and moral guide to the African nation. Together with the leader Nelson Mandela, he took on the thorny task of reconciling the nation after the conquest of democracy in 1994.
Both black and white South Africans viewed Tutu as the conscience of the nation, an enduring testimony to his faith and spirit of reconciliation in a nation that was divided for many years.
Thanks to his high-profile role in the Anglican Church, he was able to highlight the plight of black South Africans, speaking and traveling tirelessly throughout the 1980s, until he became the face of the anti-apartheid movement abroad. . For his non-violent fight against that system of segregation, the Archbishop Emeritus was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about building future liberators for human societies. He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A pastor, ”said the Nelson Mandela Foundation, shortly after Tutu’s death.
Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, also spoke. “The friendship and spiritual bond between us was something we cherished (…) Archbishop Desmond Tutu dedicated himself completely to serving his brothers and sisters for the greater common good. He was a true humanitarian and a committed defender of human rights ”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his regret on Twitter: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa. He will be remembered for his spirit of leadership and his irrepressible good humor ”, he assured. While the former US president, and also winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Barack Obama also described him on social networks as a mentor and a friend, accompanying his farewell message with a photo where both merge in a hug.
The Apartheid Critic and Democratic Leaders
Desmond Tutu was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, near Johannesburg. As a child he dreamed of being a doctor, but the lack of resources in his family led him to pursue training as a teacher, his father’s profession.
From 1954 to 1957 he worked as a school teacher and was not ordained an Anglican pastor until 1960, after having studied theology.
Tutu devoted himself to the study during the 1960s and, in 1975, he was appointed dean of the Anglican cathedral in Johannesburg, a position that was accepted for the first time by a black man. During those years, he witnessed one of the most convulsive stages of ‘apartheid’, with the student protests of 1976 that left more than 600 dead.
“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 told apartheid officials in 1982.
In addition to being a harsh critic of segregation, he was also a harsh critic of the leaders who were born when democracy came to South Africa. He never stopped speaking his mind, like when he convicted former President Jacob Zuma on corruption charges.
After decades of work and social struggles, in 2010, Tutu announced his retirement from public life. His health deteriorated after suffering from prostate cancer.
With Reuters and EFE
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South African Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu dies at 90