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Desmond Tutu, A South African anti-apartheid priest dies at the age of 90

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel peace prize laureate who helped end apartheid in South Africa, has died aged 90.

Desmond Tutu, A South African anti-apartheid priest dies at the age of 90

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the churchman’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”.

Tutu was one of the country’s best-known figures at home and abroad.

A contemporary of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, he was was one of the driving forces behind the movement to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.

He was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984 for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system.

Tutu’s death comes just weeks after that of South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, FW de Clerk, who died at the age of 85.

President Ramaphosa said Tutu was “an iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist and global human rights campaigner”.

He described him as “a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.

“A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he 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.”

Rebel Bishop

Desmond Tutu was the smiling South African archbishop whose irrepressible personality won him, friends and admirers, around the world.

As a high-profile black churchman, he was inevitably drawn into the struggle against white-minority rule but always insisted his motives were religious, not political.

He was appointed by Nelson Mandela to head South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to investigate crimes committed by both sides during the apartheid era.

He was also credited with coining the term Rainbow Nation to describe the ethnic mix of post-apartheid South Africa.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born in 1931 in a small gold-mining town in what was then the Transvaal.

He first followed in his father’s footsteps as a teacher but abandoned that career after the passage of the Bantu Education Act in 1953 which introduced racial segregation in schools.

He joined the church and was strongly influenced by many white clergymen in the country, especially another strong opponent of apartheid, Bishop Trevor Huddleston.(BBC)

Updated: December 26, 2021 — 11:01 am

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