Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace prize laureate who helped end apartheid in South Africa, has died. He was 90.
In a statement confirming his passing, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa said the cleric’s death marked “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans”.
He said Archbishop Tutu had helped bequeath “a liberated South Africa.”
The “Arch”was one of the driving forces behind the movement to end racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.
For this, he was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984.
Tutu had been ill for years. In 2013, he underwent tests for a persistent infection, and made frequent visits to the hospital ever since.
His death comes just weeks after South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, FW de Clerk, died at the age of 85.
Ordained as a priest in 1960, he went on to serve as bishop of Lesotho from 1976-78, assistant bishop of Johannesburg and rector of a parish in Soweto. He became Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985, and was appointed the first black Archbishop of Cape Town. He used his high-profile role to speak out against oppression of black people in his home country, always saying his motives were religious and not political.
After Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, Tutu was appointed by him to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to investigate crimes committed by both whites and blacks during the apartheid era.
Tributes have been pouring in from high-profiled persons across the globe since the official announcement of his death.
President Joe Biden in a joint statement with the First Lady, Jill Biden said “his courage and moral clarity helped inspire our commitment to change American policy toward the repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. His legacy transcends borders and will echo throughout the ages.”