South Africa’s freedom fighter and moral leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu has died.
He was 90.
The Anglican church Archbishop was part of South Africa’s outstanding anti-apartheid leadership that led to the end of the White minority rule and ushered in President Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first African president.
Tutu won a Nobel Prize in 1984 for championing human rights and his efforts to liberate South Africa.
As part of his legacy, Tutu led South Africa’s Truth And Reconciliation Commission that uncovered human rights violations by the White apartheid South African government and the African National Congress (ANC).
The findings moved Tutu to tears as victims recounted their experience of torture in the hands of their white or black tormenters.
“Without forgiveness, there is no future,” Tutu said at the time.
South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission is now recognized as a global model for fact-finding.
He captured the world’s attention with his wit, honesty, and ability to send hard-hitting messages without showing anger. Tutu presided over African funerals marked with anti-apartheid chants and songs throughout the fight for freedom and gave his people hope.
According to Associated Press, after 27 years in prison, Mandela spent his first night of freedom in Tutu’s residence and later described Tutu as the people’s archbishop.
AP reports that Tutu died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Center in Cape Town, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Trust said Sunday. He had been hospitalized several times since 2015 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997.
Tutu was one of the few Christian leaders to champion LGBT rights, which was at odds with many in Africa and the Anglican church.
Later in his life, he took on the South African ANC government and criticized them for corruption and failure to solve social problems plaguing South African citizens. He once described the ANC government under former President Jacob Zuma as worse than the apartheid government after denying his friend Tibetian spiritual leader The Dalai Lama entry to South Africa to celebrate Tutu’s 80th birthday for fear of antagonizing China.
His frosty relationship with ANC hit a crescendo in 2014 when the government stalled on sending him an invitation to attend Mandela’s funeral.
He leaves behind a powerful legacy of a man that fought against oppression in every part of the world.
Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born Oct. 7, 1931, in Klerksdorp, west of Johannesburg, and became a teacher before entering St. Peter’s Theological College in Rosetenville in 1958 for training as a priest. He was ordained in 1961 and six years later became chaplain at the University of Fort Hare.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years and their four children.
Click here to read the statement from The Mandela Foundation here.