Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel Peace Prize winner icon, a hard-line enemy of apartheid and a modern-day campaigner for racial justice and LGBT rights, died Sunday at the age of 90. South Africans, world leaders and the people of the world mourned the death of the man considered the moral conscience of the country.

Tutu worked passionately, relentlessly and without violence to bring down apartheid – South Africa’s brutal oppressive regime against its black majority that ended in 1994.

The dynamic and outspoken clergyman used his pulpit as the first black bishop of Johannesburg and later as the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, along with frequent public protests, to galvanize public opinion against racial inequality, at the both in his country and in the world.

Nicknamed “The Ark”, the diminutive Tutu has become a prominent figure in the history of his country, comparable to his colleague Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela, a prisoner during the reign of the Whites who became the first black president of South Africa. Tutu and Mandela shared the commitment to build a better and more equal South Africa.

Tutu’s death on Sunday “is another chapter of mourning in our nation’s farewell to a generation of exceptional South Africans who left us a liberated South Africa,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Tutu passed away peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Center in Cape Town, his confidence said. He had been hospitalized several times since 2015 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997.

“He turned his own misfortune into an educational opportunity to raise awareness and reduce the suffering of others,” Tutu Trust said.

Former US President Barack Obama hailed Tutu as “a moral compass for me and so many others.” A universal spirit, Bishop Tutu was rooted in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned about injustice everywhere. He never lost his playful sense of humor and his desire to find humanity in his opponents.

A seven-day period of mourning is planned in Cape Town before Tutu’s funeral, including two days of burial, an ecumenical service and an Anglican requiem mass at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. Table Mountain, a landmark of the southern city, will be illuminated in purple, the color of the robes Tutu wore as Archbishop.

Throughout the 1980s – when South Africa was embroiled in anti-apartheid violence and the state of emergency gave the police and military sweeping powers – Tutu was one of the leaders most prominent blacks capable of denouncing abuses.

A sharp mind lightened up Tutu’s hard-hitting messages and heated up otherwise gloomy protests, funerals and marches. Courageous and tenacious, he was a formidable force with a shrewd talent for citing appropriate scriptures in order to harness support for change.

The Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 underscored his stature as one of the world’s most effective champions of human rights.

With the end of apartheid and South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, Tutu celebrated the country’s multiracial society, calling it a “rainbow nation,” a phrase that reflected the exhilarating optimism of the country. moment.

Tutu has also campaigned internationally for human rights, particularly LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage.

“I wouldn’t worship a homophobic God,” he said in 2013, launching a campaign for LGBTQ rights in Cape Town. “I would refuse to go to a homophobic paradise. No, I would say, “Sorry, I would much rather go to the other place.” “

Tutu became disillusioned with the African National Congress, the anti-apartheid movement that became the ruling party after the 1994 elections in South Africa.

Tutu was particularly outraged by the South African government’s refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, preventing the Tibetan spiritual leader from attending Tutu’s 80th birthday as well as a planned gathering of Nobel laureates in Cape Town. The government has rejected Tutu’s accusations that it was giving in to pressure from China, a major trading partner.

Tutu’s life has been “entirely devoted to the service of his brothers and sisters for the greater common good. He was a real humanitarian, “the Dalai Lama said on Sunday.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, west of Johannesburg, and became a teacher before entering St. Peter’s Theological College, Rosetenville in 1958. He was ordained in 1961 and six years later was ordained. became chaplain at the University of Fort Lièvre.

He became bishop of Lesotho, president of the South African Council of Churches and, in 1985, the first black Anglican bishop of Johannesburg. In 1986, Tutu was appointed the first Black Archbishop of Cape Town.

As head of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Tutu and his panel listened to harrowing accounts of torture, killings and other atrocities during apartheid. At some hearings, Tutu openly cried.

The commission’s 1998 report placed much of the blame on the apartheid forces, but also found the African National Congress guilty of human rights violations. The ANC filed a lawsuit to block the publication of the document, which earned it a reprimand from Tutu. “I haven’t struggled to eliminate a group of those who thought they were tin gods and replace them with others who are tempted to think they are,” Tutu said.

Tutu is survived by his wife of 66 years, Leah, and their four children.

When asked once how he wanted to be remembered, he told The Associated Press: “He loved. He’s laughing. He is crying. He was forgiven. He forgave. Highly privileged.

___

AP reporter Christopher Torchia contributed to this report.

Andrew Meldrum, The Associated Press


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