South African activist and Archbishop Desmond Tutu dies at 90

The statement released by the President’s office did not confirm the reason behind Desmond Tutu’s death but he had fought on and off battle with prostate cancer since 1987

Desmond Tutu, South African Nobel laureate activist for racial justice and LGBT rights, has died at 90 on Sunday.

His death was confirmed by the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa. The statement released by the President’s office did not confirm the reason behind his death but he had fought on and off battle with prostate cancer since 1987. Ramaphosa called the archbishop ‘a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.’

Voice for non-violent protest

Desmond Tutu was the leader of the South African Council of Churches and later became the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town. He led the church to the forefront of decades-long Black South African’s struggle for freedom.

His powerful non-violence voice in the anti-apartheid movement earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Cyril Ramaphosa said Tutu was “an iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist and global human rights campaigner”. “A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his heart for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world.”

After democracy, Tutu oversaw the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that exposed crimes of the white minority government. Later, he vehemently protested against the failures of the South African government formed by the African National Congress.

Retirement from public life

In October 2010, Tutu announced his retirement from public life so that he could spend more time with his family. Around three years later, in 2013, he said that he would no longer vote for the ANC as the party was very good at leading us in the struggle to be free from oppression but had fared poorly in countering inequality, violence, and corruption after forming the government.

Next month, he launched a new party, Agang South Africa. In 2014, he came out to support legalized assisted dying, stating that he would want that option for himself. Next year, he blessed the proceeding and attended his daughter wedding in the Netherlands. The Anglican Church does not support same-sex marriage.

In November 2012, he had published a letter alongside Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and expressed support for the imprisoned US military whistle-blower Chelsea Manning. In August 2017, Desmond Tutu urged Saudi Arabia to stop the execution of 14 participants of the 2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests. In September, Tutu asked Aung San Suu Kyi to halt the Army’s persecution of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority.

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