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Desmond Tutu dies aged 90; Archbishop and apartheid critic was national conscience of South Africa

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Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2021. 1:40 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Today the world is remembering Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran of South Africa’s struggle against white minority rule, who died early today, Sunday, at the age of 90, according to Reuters.

A cause of death had not been immediately announced, though he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and had to be hospitalized several times recently to treat infections associated with cancer treatment.

Tutu effectively acted as the face of the anti-apartheid movement abroad while its leaders, including former neighbor Nelson Mandela, were behind bars. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in recognition of his efforts. After Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his subsequent election as President of South Africa, Tutu chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed during those dark days.

The outspoken Tutu was considered the nation’s conscience by both Black and white, holding both Afrikaner leaders and later colleagues in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to account. He spoke out on other issues, declaring his support for the Palestinian cause and for gay rights. He once said: “I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.”

Tributes came from far and wide, including incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who said: “The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa…Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal.”

 

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