Buhari, Obama, OBJ, Pope, others mourn as Desmond Tutu dies at 90

TRIBUTES have been pouring in as Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran of South Africa’s struggle against white minority rule, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, died on Sunday at the age of 90. 

Tutu who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to apartheid passed on in the early hours of Sunday, Reuters reported. 

A decade after his anti-apartheid struggle, he witnessed the end of that regime and chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed during those dark days. 

The outspoken Tutu was considered the nation’s conscience by both black and white, an enduring testament to his faith and spirit of reconciliation in a divided nation. 

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and in recent years was hospitalised on several occasions to treat infections associated with his cancer treatment. 

“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,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said. 

“Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal.” 

The presidency, however, gave no details on the cause of death. 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,” Dr Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and Co-ordinator of the Office of the Archbishop, said in a statement on behalf of the Tutu family. 

A frail-looking Tutu was seen in October being wheeled into his former parish at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, which used to be a safe haven for anti-apartheid activists, for a service marking his 90th birthday. 

Reacting to the death of Desmond Tutu, President Muhammadu Buhari condoled with President Ramaphosa, South Africans and the global Christian body, over his passing. 

According to a statement issued by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, on Sunday, Buhari believed the death of the iconic teacher, human rights activist, leader of thought, scholar and philanthropist, further creates a void in a world in dire need of wisdom, integrity, courage and sound reasoning. 

The statement said as a South African, global citizen and renowned world leader, the president affirmed that the historic role Archbishop Tutu played in the fight against apartheid, enduring physical assaults, jail terms and prolonged exile, took him beyond the pulpit to global, political relevance, and his position, under President Nelson Mandela, in heading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided healing and direction for his country and the world. 

He further commiserated with Leah Tutu, the spouse of the spiritual leader and lifelong partner in the struggle against injustice, corruption and inequality, the Tutu family, board and staff of Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Elders and Nobel Laureate Group, urging solace that the voice of the scholar and teacher, his published works, and inspirational quotes will resonate through generations, bringing more light and clarity to religious diversity, democracy and good governance. 

Also, former US President Barack Obama, said “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend and a moral compass for me and so many others. 

“A universal spirit, 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 humour and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly.” 

Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said the late Desmond Tutu, would be remembered for his forthrightness, doggedness, dynamism, welfarism, anti-corruption, estachological discourses, courage, commitment to ethical values, uprightness, unwavering Christian testimony and purposeful leadership. 

He described the late Tutu as a credible; bold and charismatic personality who provided purposeful leadership not only to the Anglican Church but to all Christians. 

Pope Francis via a Vatican telegram also mourned the passing of the anti-apartheid hero. He said, “His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu… Mindful of his service to the gospel through the promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa, his Holiness commends his soul to the loving mercy of Almighty God.” UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, lauded Desmond Tutu fight to end apartheid. 

He said, “He was a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa – and will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humour.” 

Nelson Mandela Foundation in a statement said, “His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberator futures for human societies. He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd.” 

Jimmy Carter, former US President also mourned the late Tutu, saying “No words better exemplify his ministry than the three he contributed to a work of art at The Carter Center: Love, freedom and compassion.” 

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