Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid who was revered as his nation’s conscience by both Black and white, died on Sunday aged 90.
Tutu won the Nobel prize in 1984 in recognition of his non-violent opposition to white minority rule. A decade later, he witnessed the end of that regime and chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed under it.
Ever outspoken, he preached against the tyranny of the white minority.
After apartheid ended, he called the Black political elite to account with as much feistiness as he had the Afrikaners, but his enduring spirit of reconciliation in a divided nation always shone through, and tributes to him poured in from around the world on Sunday.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa described Tutu in a televised address as “one of our nation’s finest patriots” adding, “our nation’s loss is indeed a global bereavement.”
In his final years he also regretted that his dream of a “Rainbow Nation” had yet to come true, and often fell out with erstwhile allies at the ruling African National Congress party over their failures to address the poverty and inequalities that they promised to eradicate.