Condolence messages continue pouring in from global leaders to the Tutu family, following the death of South African civil rights leader and anti- apartheid archbishop Desmond Tutu in a battle lost against cancer.
Speaking at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town during the Archbishop's funeral, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa described Tutu as a champion of the immortal cause of justice.
“He was not content to decry apartheid at conferences or benefit concerts or international fora. He was there, with the freedom fighters, confronting the apartheid regime. He was not content to preach about social justice from the pulpit. He was with the homeless, the hopeless, the persecuted, the sick and the destitute, in the streets, shelters and homes.”
Ramaphosa adds, “He did not hesitate to draw attention, often harshly, to our shortcomings as leaders of the [post-apartheid] democratic state.”
Ramaphosa’s sentiments were echoed by former U.S. President Barack Obama, who described Tutu as a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for many global leaders.
“Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere," the former president said.
Britain’s royal family are among the global dignitaries sending condolence messages, stating that Tutu’s life will be celebrated by Great Britain, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in high esteem.
“I am joined by the whole Royal family in being deeply saddened by the news of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world. I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humor,” says United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu began his journey of activism in 1958 after refusing to be part of a teaching system that promoted inequality against black students and joined the Anglican priesthood. In 1962 Tutu moved the Britain to study theology at King’s College in London and moved back to South Africa in 1966, where he began teaching in Eastern Cape and became vocal against the Apartheid regime.
Tutu became the first black Anglican dean of Johannesburg in 1975 and led a delegation of church leaders who urged Prime Minister P.W. Botha to end apartheid in 1980. In 1985, Tutu publicly endorsed an economic boycott of South Africa to dismantle apartheid.
The late Archbishop worked hard for the 1991 repeal of apartheid laws and racist restrictions, leading to power sharing talks between the Apartheid government and 16 anti-apartheid groups.
In 1994, South Africa held its first democratic elections, which led to Nelson Mandela becoming its first president of color. Mandela adopted Tutu’s philosophy of calling South Africa the “Rainbow nation,” describing the coming together of various races.
Along with his activism, Archbishop Tutu's warmth and embracement of people of many persuasions were also celebrated.
Former President Obama quipped “He never lost his impish sense of humor and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly,”