July 25, 2024

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Anti-Apartheid Hero,Desmond Tutu Dies At 90

Desmond Tutu, the cleric and social activist who was a giant of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, has died aged 90.

Tutu, described as the moral conscience of South Africa, died in Cape Town. “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.

“From the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel peace prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights.”

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

“Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” Dr Mamphela Ramphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and coordinator of the office of the archbishop, said.

She did not give details on the cause of death.Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, a farming town 100 miles (160km) south-west of Johannesburg. The sickly son of a headteacher and a domestic servant, he trained first as a teacher before becoming an Anglican priest.

As a cleric, he travelled widely, gaining an MA in theology from London University. Though he only emerged as a key figure in the liberation struggle in the mid-1970s, he was to have a huge impact, becoming a household name across the globe.

Excitable, emotional, charismatic and highly articulate, Tutu won the Nobel peace prize in 1984. A vocal supporter of sanctions against South Africa, he was detested by supporters of the apartheid regime, who saw him as an agitator and traitor. Tutu was however protected not just by his wit and combative spirit but by his immense popularity and respect. In 1986 he was appointed archbishop of Cape Town, the effective head of the Anglican church in his homeland.

Tutu always kept his distance from the African National Congress (ANC), the party which spearheaded the liberation movement and has now been in power in South Africa for more than 20 years. He refused to back its armed struggle and support unconditionally leaders such as Nelson Mandela.

However Tutu shared Mandela’s vision of a multiracial society in which all communities live together without rancour or discrimination and is credited with coining the phrase “rainbow nation” to describe this vision.