Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday condoled the passing of Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a veteran of South Africa’s struggle against white minority rule.
In 1984, Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent opposition to apartheid. A decade later, he witnessed the end of that regime and 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, an enduring testament to his faith and spirit of reconciliation in a divided nation.
The 90-year-old was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and in recent years was hospitalised on several occasions to treat infections associated with his cancer treatment.
“My deepest condolences on the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Laureate, a close confidant of Nelson Mandela, an icon of anti-apartheid struggle & champion of human rights,” PM Imran wrote on his official Twitter handle.
My deepest condolences on the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Laureate, close confidant of Nelson Mandela, an icon of anti-apartheid struggle & champion of human rights. His critical role in liberation & national reconciliation are an inspiration for future generations.
â€” Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 26, 2021
The premier said that Tutu’s critical role in liberation and national reconciliation is an inspiration for future generations.
Tutu preached against the tyranny of the white minority but his fight for a fairer South Africa never ended, calling the Black political elite to account with as much feistiness as he had the white Afrikaners.
In his final years, he regretted that his dream of a “Rainbow Nation” had yet to come true.
“Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” Dr Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and Co-ordinator of the Office of the Archbishop, said in a statement on behalf of the Tutu family.
A frail-looking Tutu was seen in October being wheeled into his former parish at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, which used to be a safe haven for anti-apartheid activists, for a service marking his 90th birthday.
Dubbed “the moral compass of the nation”, his courage in defending social justice, even at great cost to himself, always shone through. He often fell out with his erstwhile allies at the ruling African National Congress party over their failures to address the poverty and inequalities that they promised to eradicate.
Tutu, just five feet five inches (1.68 metres) tall and with an infectious giggle, travelled tirelessly throughout the 1980s, becoming the face of the anti-apartheid movement abroad while many of the leaders of the rebel ANC such as Nelson Mandela were behind bars.
Although he was born near Johannesburg, he spent most of his later life in Cape Town and led numerous marches and campaigns to end apartheid from St George’s front steps, which became known as the “People’s Cathedral” and a powerful symbol of democracy.