Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away on Sunday at the age of 90. Archbishop Tutu, a leader in the struggle against apartheid, has been revered as the moral compass of South Africa, the nation’s conscience.
He was also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in honor of his peaceful opposition to white minority rule.
He has affectionately been known as “the Arch” for six decades. Archishop Tutu was one of the significant voices exhorting the South African government to end Aparthied, the country’s official policy of racial segregation.
After Apartheid ended in the early 90s, Nelson Mandela, who had been long imprisoned, became president. Of Archbishop Tutu, Mr. Mandela said “his most characteristic quality is his readiness to take unpopular positions without fear. Such independence of mind is vital to a thriving democracy.”
After Mr. Mandela became president, Archbishop Tutu was named the chair of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was initiated to uncover atrocities which took place under the regime.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa described Archbishop Tutu in a televised address as “one of our nation’s finest patriots” adding, “our nation’s loss is indeed a global bereavement,” reported Reuters.
“His legacy transcends borders and will echo throughout the ages,” said President Joe Biden.
Former President Bill Clintion referred to Archbishop Tutu’s life as a “gift.”
“Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend and a moral compass for me and so many others. He never lost his impish sense of humor and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries,” said former President Barack Obama.
Archbishop Tutu had been in failing health for years. In 2013 he underwent testing for a persisting infection and has been hospitalized on and off in the following years, according to a report by CNN.
The Archbishop’s last public appearance was in October, at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, where he was in a wheelchair and was said to have looked frail. The service marked his 90th birthday.
Archbishop Tutu passed away peacefully in a nursing home in Cape Town on Sunday morning, according to IP Trust, a representative of Archbishop Tutu.