South African Archbishop, Anglican bishop, anti-apartheid, human rights activist, and theologian Desmond Tutu sadly recently passed at the age of 90. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, confirmed the news Sunday.
In a statement, Ramphosa praised the archbishop for his contribution to humanity. “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.”
Ramphosa added, “Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.”
So who was Desmond Tutu, and why is he so beloved and respected by many? Here are five facts to get yourself familiarized with the man affectionately known as “The Arch.”
What is Desmond Tutu best known for?
Tutu was a well-known South African Anglican archbishop who sparked change with his antagonism to apartheid (a system of institutionalized racial segregation) in South Africa, for which he received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984. In 1995, he gained the title, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, investigating allegations of human rights abuses during the apartheid era.
What awards did Desmond Tutu receive?
Tutu has earned many awards and distinctions throughout his life. Some include the Nobel Prize for Peace (1984), the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009), an award from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation that recognized his lifelong commitment to “speaking truth to power”(2012), and the Templeton Prize (2013).
Tutu was honored for his fearlessness
He was seen as a unifying element for all African freedom fighters. Tutu represented a powerful example of non-violence, and many felicitated him as he paved the path to liberation. His Nobel Peace prize earned him international standing and allowed him to continued the fight for stricter sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s.
Tutu advocated for female and gay Anglican priests
During his stint as Archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu rightfully approved the admission of female priests in the Anglican church. He also likened the barring of female priests to apartheid. During his tenure, Tutu appointed gay priests to senior positions despite opposition from the church. The church was insisting on gay priests remaining celibate.
Tutu and Mandela were very close friends
Nelson Mandela was a close ally of Tutu and the apartheid dissenters. Both Mandela and Tutu were the most influential opponents of apartheid, founding The Elders, an international group of inspirational leaders who have worked to promote human rights in countries all over the world.
For many, being a kind person as Tutu was, is beyond difficult. The world is blessed to have had such a valiant and dauntless man as The Arch, who influenced the idea, a “rainbow nation.” South Africa especially will feel the loss of this brave soldier.
By Jeremiah Griffith, Junior, Noble Academy