World leaders mourn passing of South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu
Dec 27, 2021 - 01:51 AM
JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Messages of condolences are pouring in from across the world, mourning South Africa’s anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who died Sunday at the age of 90.
“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,’’ British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted.
Johnson said he will remember Tutu for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humor.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Tutu’s passing early Sunday, expressing “profound sadness.”
Tutu rose to prominence in the 1980s for his strong role in opposing apartheid rule in South Africa, emphasizing nonviolent protests.
“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,” Ramaphosa said.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tutu was a “guiding light” for countless people globally.
“His emphasis on human dignity and equality will be forever remembered. I am deeply saddened by his demise, and extend my heartfelt condolences to all his admirers. May his soul rest in peace,’’ he said on Twitter.
Tutu served as the first Black archbishop at the St. Georges Cathedral in Cape Town in the 1980s and won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.
He was the last surviving South African laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Tutu was also the chairperson of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the new democratic government in 1995 to help heal and reconcile the country by unearthing human rights violations that occurred during the apartheid regime.
In a condolence letter addressed to Tutu’s daughter Mpho Tutu, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama described Tutu as a “respected elder spiritual brother and good friend.”
“He (Tutu) was a true humanitarian and a committed advocate of human rights. His work for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an inspiration for others around the world,’’ the Dalai Lama said.
He said the world has lost a great man who lived a truly meaningful life. “He was devoted to the service of others, especially those who are least fortunate. I am convinced the best tribute we can pay him and keep his spirit alive is to do as he did and constantly look to see how we too can be of help to others,’’ the Tibetan spiritual leader added.
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said he was saddened by Tutu’s passing, describing the late cleric as a “gallant son of the African soil who fought against the injustices of humanity.”
Hichilema said Tutu belonged to “a generation of selfless African leaders that gallantly challenged the injustices of apartheid and racial subjugation against the African people in South Africa and other marginalized people around the world.”
“We wish to express our profound condolences to his widow Nomalizo Leah Tutu, his family, and the people of South Africa on the passing away of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, may his soul rest in peace,” Hichilema said on Facebook.
In his condolence message, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta described Tutu as an African icon of freedom, peace, and reconciliation and termed his death a blow to Africa as a whole where he is deeply respected and celebrated as a peacemaker.
“Through his distinguished work over the years as a cleric, freedom fighter, and peacemaker, Archbishop Tutu inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle,” Kenyatta said.
*James Kunda in Lusaka, Zambia and Andrew Wasike in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.