Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who helped bring South Africa’s apartheid system to an end, has died at the age of 90.
The churchman’s death, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, marks “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans.”
Archbishop Tutu had also contributed to the legacy of “a liberated South Africa,” he said.
Tutu was one of the most well-known figures in the country, both at home and abroad.
He was a contemporary of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, and he was a driving force behind the movement to end the white minority government’s policy of racial segregation and discrimination against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.
Tutu was described by President Ramaphosa as “an iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist, and global human rights campaigner.”
“A patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead,” he said.
“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.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation was among those paying tributes, saying Tutu’s “contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies.
“He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd.”
Former US President Barack Obama referred to him as a “moral compass” and a mentor.