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Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Anti-Apartheid Hero, Rests at 90


By Rogers Wanambwa 

KIU, Main Campus – Last weekend, the government of the Republic of South Africa announced that revered anti-apartheid hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, had passed away at the age of 90. 

“Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without work is dead,” President Ramaphosa said.

He added that Tutu was “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.” 

Tutu, who had been fighting prostate cancer for about 20 years, is known for coining the phrase "the Rainbow Nation," often used in post-apartheid South Africa. 

A coeval of Nelson Mandela, Tutu was bestowed with the Nobel prize in 1984 for his role in the crusade to abolish the apartheid system carried out by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948-91. 

Many world leaders have already paid tribute to the fallen hero. 

US president, Joe Biden, said he was “heartbroken to learn of the passing of a true servant of God and the people,” adding that Tutu's “legacy transcends borders and will echo through the ages.”

In the same breath, former US president, Barack Obama, described Tutu as “a mentor, friend, and moral compass.” 

The queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, in her condolence message, said she remembers with fondness her meetings with him, his great warmth and humour.

“Archbishop Tutu's loss will be felt by the people of South Africa and by so many people in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in such high affection and esteem.” 

A statement from the Vatican said that Pope Francis offered “heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.”

“Mindful of his service to the gospel through the promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa, his holiness commends his soul to the loving mercy of almighty God."

South Africa is to hold a week of events to celebrate the anti-apartheid leader, who succumbed on Saturday. Plans comprise two days of lying in state before an official state funeral on January 1st in Cape Town.