HomeThe richly inspiring fire of Desmond Tutu, put out...

The richly inspiring fire of Desmond Tutu, put out at 90

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the anti-apartheid icon, died on Sunday, at the age of 90

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the anti-apartheid icon, died on Sunday, at the age of 90.

Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for combatting white minority rule in his country. He was also awarded the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

In a protest of the Apartheid regime’s discriminatory Bantu Education Act of 1953, Tutu was to abandon the teaching career, for which he was initially trained, for the priesthood.

He was appointed Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg, and in 1976 became the Bishop of Lesotho. He was to retire as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996, after a ten-year service in that situation.

After the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up by President Nelson Mandela.

In an announcement of Tutu’s death, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said, “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.

“Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.

“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.

“As Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he articulated the universal outrage at the ravages of apartheid and touchingly and profoundly demonstrated the depth of meaning of ubuntu, reconciliation and forgiveness.

“He placed his extensive academic achievements at the service of our struggle and at the service of the cause for social and economic justice the world over.

“He remained true to his convictions during our democratic dispensation and maintained his vigour and vigilance as he held leadership and the burgeoning institutions of our democracy to account in his inimitable, inescapable and always fortifying way.

“We share this moment of deep loss with Mam Leah Tutu, the Archbishop’s soulmate and source of strength and insight, who has made a monumental contribution in her own right to our freedom and to the development of our democracy.

You’ve made an extremely difficult demand on me…

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