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Activist and archbishop Desmond Tutu dies at 90

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Rvd. Desmond Tutu, passed on Sunday.

On Boxing Day, the world lost racial justice and LGBTQ rights activist, and determined leader of the anti-apartheid movement, Desmond Tutu.

Tutu was one of the leading voices speaking against the abuses of the oppressive apartheid regime throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Aligning himself with the liberation struggle in the mid-70s, Tutu was an outspoken critic of the inequality he had witnessed, whose words would later be echoed by Nelson Mandela.

The Archbishop was known for his quick wit and charming humour, which he used to win over supporters in his struggles, once referring to South Africa’s racial struggles as having “a few local problems.”

He often spoke at the funerals of activists who had been killed by state security, and criticised Western political leaders Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher for their continued relationship with the apartheid governments, stating “support of this racist policy is racist.”

After the abolition of apartheid in 1994, the Archbishop continued fighting for human rights across the globe, through his energetic and charismatic speeches.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 1984 for championing human rights.

The Arch, as he was fondly known, was also a vocal and passionate supporter of LGBTQ rights.

In a damning condemnation of its “illogical and frankly un-Christian” policy on homosexuality, Tutu accused the church of “committing the ultimate blasphemy’: “making the children of God doubt that they are the children of God.”

Bernice King, the daughter of the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr., described Desmond Tutu as a “great, influential elder”.

“We are better because he was here.”

World leaders joined King in mourning the late activist.

The Dalai Lama referred to the “friendship and the spiritual bond” they shared, describing Tutu as “a true humanitarian and a committed advocate of human rights”.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, also shared his appreciation of Tutu’s advocacy for the rights of the Palestinians to gain their freedom.

His body will lie in state at his old cathedral, St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town until his funeral on January 1st.

Hundreds of mourners have already visited the cathedral to show their respects, and say goodbye to “Tata”, the affectionate name meaning father, as he was known to many.

 

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