By Our Editor
It is befitting that a week long mourning period has been declared for one of the noticeable icons of the struggle again apartheid in South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu who passed away last Sunday at the age of 90. As people reflect on his life, other quarters are commenting about the battle and struggle that still continues today on the polarisation of indigenous African by the elite. We still need the Desmond Tutus even today to carry on fighting.
His official funeral takes places on January 1, 2022 in Cape Town amidst uncertainties of an appropriate send off due to the scavenging global Covid-19 pandemic. However, tributes have been pouring in from leaders around the world, including Queen Elizabeth II, US President Joe Biden and Pope Francis. This all indicates that with his work, the Archbishop did not only touch hearts at home but also widely abroad.
Already, locally thousands of people have braved the circumstances and travelled to Cape Town to lay flowers in respect of the fallen hero at St George’s Cathedral, the oldest in South Africa. It is here that during the official mourning period in honouring Tutu, the bells of the cathedral will be rung daily at noon local time until Friday.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement that Tutu had helped bring about “a liberated South Africa”.
A contemporary of Nelson Mandela, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace 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 1948-91.
In capturing the sense of loss, according to the BBC news website the following is what some of the world leaders said in trubute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
President Biden said he was “heartbroken to learn of the passing of a true servant of God and of the people”, adding that Tutu’s “legacy transcends borders and will echo through the ages”.
Former US President Barack Obama described Tutu as “a mentor, friend and moral compass”.
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.”
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tutu had “inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle”.
The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis offered “heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones”.
“Mindful of his service to the gospel through the promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa, his holiness commends his soul to the loving mercy of almighty God.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Tutu’s “contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies”.
“He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd.”
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.