Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African Anti-Apartheid And Human Rights Activist Dead At 90

The outspoken activist was officially known as "The Arch."

South African cleric, and anti-apartheid activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has died at the age of 90 in Cape Town, South Africa. On Sunday, Dec. 26, a statement from the Desmond & Leah Legacy Foundation confirmed the news. “Tutu was a living embodiment of faith in action, speaking boldly against racism, injustice, corruption, and oppression, not just in apartheid South Africa but wherever in the world he saw wrongdoing, especially when it impacted the most vulnerable and voiceless in society,” the statement read.  

“While Tutu was first and always an Anglican priest who made no secret of his deep dependence on the inner life of disciplined prayer, his faith burst the confines of denomination and religion, joyfully embracing all who shared his passion for justice and love. People of all faiths and no faith together christened him fondly as simply ‘The Arch.’” 

South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa also mourned the loss of Tutu. “Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead,” he said via Twitter. “We pray that Archbishop Tutu’s soul will rest in peace but that his spirit will stand sentry over the future of our nation.” 

Ramaphosa’s statement continued: “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.” 

Tutu spent six decades actively pushing for the end of apartheid in his native of South Africa. Shortly after the end of apartheid in 1990, the then President, Nelson Mandela appointed Tutu as the chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  

Throughout his life, his dedication to civil rights found Tutu receiving top honors from around the world. In 2009, “The Arch” was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. One of his highest honors came as he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.  

Tutu retired from public service on his 79th birthday. However, for the duration of his life he continued to speak out on ethical and moral issues including, illegal arms deals, xenophobia, oppressed people in Palestine, respect for the rule of law, HIV/Aids,  Tibet, China, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and LGBTQI+ rights and climate change.  

Tutu is survived by his wife Nomalizo Leah Tutu, siblings Trevor Thamsanqa Tutu, Naomi Nontombi Tutu, Theresa Thandeka Tutu, Mpho  Tutu van Furth and their families.  



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