South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has died at the age of 90.
The Nobel Peace prize laureate was instrumental in the fight that helped end apartheid in South Africa.
He was a contemporary of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, and is known for the movement to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.
Tutu’s death comes just weeks after that of South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, FW de Clerk, died at the age of 85.
Tributes pour in
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tutu was “an iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist and global human rights campaigner”.
He said Archbishop Tutu had helped bequeath “a liberated South Africa”.
Ramaphosa described him as “a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.
“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.”
Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba lauded the clergyman for his moral strength, moral courage and clarity.
Makgoba said in a statement that the church will plan Tutu’s funeral and services.
Ordained as a priest in 1960, he went on to serve as bishop of Lesotho from 1976-78, assistant bishop of Johannesburg and rector of a parish in Soweto.
He became Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985, and was appointed the first black Archbishop of Cape Town.
Tutu used his high-profile role to speak out against oppression of black people in his home country, always saying his motives were religious and not political.
After Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, Tutu was appointed by him to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to investigate crimes committed by both whites and blacks during the apartheid era.
He was also credited with coining the term Rainbow Nation to describe the ethnic mix of post-apartheid South Africa, but in his later years he expressed regret that the nation had not merged in the way in which he had dreamt.