There was one final Christmas this year for the much-loved and respected Archbiship emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu. The man who battled apartheid, TB, cancer and much more, passed away peacefully with his family on the morning of 26th December. He was with his wife of 66 years Mam Leah.
President Cyril Ramaphosa lead the tributes and expressed the heartfelt sadness of all South Africans on hearing the news.
"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," said Ramaphosa.
“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".
“A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world".
"As Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he articulated the universal outrage at the ravages of apartheid and touchingly and profoundly demonstrated the depth of meaning of ubuntu, reconciliation and forgiveness".
“From the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights".
“In his richly inspiring yet challenging life, Desmond Tutu overcame tuberculosis, the brutality of the apartheid security forces and the intransigence of successive apartheid regimes. Neither Casspirs, teargas nor security agents could intimidate him or deter him from his steadfast belief in our liberation".
“He remained true to his convictions during our democratic dispensation and maintained his vigour and vigilance as he held leadership and the burgeoning institutions of our democracy to account in his inimitable, inescapable and always fortifying way".
“We share this moment of deep loss with Mam Leah Tutu, the Archbishop’s soulmate and source of strength and insight, who has made a monumental contribution in her own right to our freedom and to the development of our democracy".
“We pray that Archbishop Tutu’s soul will rest in peace but that his spirit will stand sentry over the future of our nation,” said Ramaphosa.
Tributes Pour In
Meanwhile, the Nelson Mandela Foundation described the passing of Tutu as an immeasurable loss for the country.
“He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing. His 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. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult time.”
Mandela and Tutu were both founding members of The Elders, an international grouping of inspirational leaders which has done human rights work in countries around the world.
Mandela and the Archbishop Emeritus first met at a debating competition in the early 1950s. It would be four decades later before they met again, on the day that Mandela was released from prison.
“His first night as a free man was spent at the home of the Tutus in Bishopscourt, Cape Town. On that occasion before everyone retired for the night, Tutu offered a prayer of thanksgiving and led a singing of Reverend Tiyo Soga’s famous hymn in isiXhosa, ‘Lizalis’idinga lakho’ – ‘Let your will be done’.
“The apartheid state had frustrated attempts by both Mandela and Tutu for the two of them to meet before the prison release on 11 February 1990. From then until Mandela passed away in 2013 they were in regular contact and their friendship deepened over time,” said the Nelson Mandela Foundation.