By Ivan Mwine
Several heads of state across the world have paid tribute to fallen Pan-Africanist and Anti-Apartheid crusader Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was among the heroes that fought for South Africa’s independence.
Archbishop Tutu died Sunday December 26th, 2021, aged 90, after several years of battling health complications.
Following his demise a number of world leaders led by Queen Elizabeth II have sent out tributes to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
In a message of condolence, Queen Elizabeth II said she remembered with fondness her meetings with him, and his great warmth and humour.
“Archbishop Tutu’s loss will be felt by the people of South Africa and by so many people in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in such high affection and esteem,” the Queen’s condolence message reads in part.
US President Joe Biden said he was “heartbroken to learn of the passing of a true servant of God and of the people.”
“His legacy transcends borders and will echo through the ages.”
In his condolence message, former US President Barack Obama described the churchman as “a mentor, friend and moral compass.”
Obama talked of Archbishop Tutu as a man “who was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere.”
“He never lost his impish sense of humour and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly.”
A contemporary of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu was one of the driving forces behind the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he had helped bequeath “a liberated South Africa.”
President Ramaphosa said he was “an iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist and global human rights campaigner”.
He 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”.
One of the country’s best known figures at home and abroad, Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984 for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system 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 Klerk, who died at the age of 85.
Church officials in South Africa say a week of tributes is being organised. The plans include two days of lying in state to allow the public to pay their respects before an official state funeral on 1 January.
Courtesy of BBC