South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning symbol for racial justice and human rights, has died at the age of 90.
On Sunday (December 26), South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his death in a statement, saying, “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 added, “A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, [Tutu] 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.”
In 1975, Tutu — who was a primary voice in urging the South African government to end apartheid — became the first Black bishop of Johannesburg, South Africa’s capital, and later the first Black Archbishop of Cape Town. In 1984, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent opposition to apartheid.
Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and was admitted to the hospital several times in recent years.
Following news of Tutu’s passing, world leaders paid tribute to the anti-apartheid icon. See their statements below.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for me and so many others. A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 26, 2021
Thankful for the transformational life and legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
A freedom fighter extraordinaire, his powerful voice helped dismantle the evil Apartheid regime in South Africa.
Rest in Power.