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South African equality activist Desmond Tutu dies at 90

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South African equality activist Desmond Tutu dies at 90

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Desmond Tutu, South African racial justice and LGBT rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner and retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has died, South African President Cyril said on Sunday Ramaphosa. He was 90 years old.

Uncompromising enemy of apartheid – South Africa’s brutal oppressive regime against the black majority – Tutu worked tirelessly, but without violence, for its downfall.

The dynamic and outspoken clergyman used his pulpit as the first black bishop of Johannesburg and later Archbishop of Cape Town, along with frequent public protests to galvanize public opinion against racial inequalities both in his country and in the world.

Desmond Tutu, right, greets President Nelson Mandela during a service in Cape Town on Sunday June 23, 1996, held to celebrate the end of Tutu’s tenure as head of the Anglican Church in South Africa. (AP Photo / Guy Tillim, file)

Tutu’s death on Sunday “is another chapter of mourning in our nation’s farewell to a generation of exceptional South Africans who left us a liberated South Africa,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.

“From the sidewalks of the resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the great cathedrals and places of worship of the world, to the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, l’Arche has distinguished itself as a non-champion. sectarian and inclusive of universal human rights. “

Tutu passed away peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Center in Cape Town, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Trust said in a statement on Sunday.

Tutu had been hospitalized several times since 2015, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997.

“Usually he has turned his own misfortune into an educational opportunity to raise awareness and reduce the suffering of others,” the Tutu Trust statement said. “He wanted the world to know he had prostate cancer, and the sooner it was detected, the better the chances of managing it.”

In recent years, he and his wife, Leah, have been living in a retirement community outside of Cape Town.

South African equality activist Desmond Tutu dies at 90

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Desmond Tutu gestures during remarks denouncing his country’s apartheid policy on racial separation in New Orleans, September 7, 1982 (AP Photo / Jack Thornell, File)

Throughout the 1980s – when South Africa was embroiled in anti-apartheid violence and a state of emergency giving the police and military sweeping powers – Tutu was one of the black people. more prominent capable of denouncing abuses.

A sharp mind lightened up Tutu’s hard-hitting messages and heated up otherwise gloomy protests, funerals and marches. Small, courageous, tenacious, he was a formidable force, and the apartheid rulers learned not to neglect his astute talent for citing appropriate scriptures in order to harness just support for change.

The Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 underscored his stature as one of the world’s most effective champions of human rights, a responsibility he took seriously for the rest of his life.

South African equality activist Desmond Tutu dies at 90

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Desmond Tutu, center, starts dancing after renewing his wedding vows to his 60-year-old wife Leah, right, during a service in Soweto, Johannesburg, August 2015 (AP Photo, File)

With the end of apartheid and South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, Tutu celebrated the country’s multiracial society, calling it a “rainbow nation,” a phrase that reflected the exhilarating optimism of the country. moment.

Nicknamed “The Ark,” Tutu was short, with a playful sense of humor, but became a dominant figure in his country’s history, comparable to his fellow Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela, a prisoner under domination. Blanche who became South Africa’s first black president. Tutu and Mandela shared the commitment to build a better and more equal South Africa.

In 1990, after 27 years in prison, Mandela spent his first night at liberty at Tutu’s residence in Cape Town. Mandela later called Tutu “the archbishop of the people”.

Upon becoming president in 1994, Mandela appointed Tutu chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which exposed abuses of the apartheid system.

South African equality activist Desmond Tutu dies at 90

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Desmond Tutu, left, holds a microphone as the Tibetan spiritual leader, gestures by the Dalai Lama, as they interact with school children at the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharmsala, India on Thursday April 23 2015. (AP Photo / Ashwini Bhatia, File)

Tutu has campaigned internationally for human rights, especially LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

“I wouldn’t worship a God who is homophobic and that’s how deeply I feel that,” he said in 2013, launching a campaign for LGBT rights in Cape Town. “I would refuse to go to a homophobic paradise. No, I would say, “Sorry, I would much rather go to the other place.” “

Tutu said he was “as passionate about this campaign (for LGBT rights) as I have ever been about apartheid. For me, it’s on the same level. He was one of the most prominent religious leaders defending LGBT rights. Tutu’s very public stance for LGBT rights has put him at odds with many in South Africa and across the continent as well as within the Anglican Church.

South Africa, Tutu said, was a promising “rainbow” nation for racial reconciliation and equality, even though it has lost its illusions in the face of the African National Congress, the anti-movement. apartheid which became the ruling party in the 1994 elections. His outspoken remarks long after apartheid have occasionally angered supporters who have accused him of being biased or out of touch.

Tutu was particularly outraged by the South African government’s refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, preventing the Tibetan spiritual leader from attending Tutu’s 80th birthday celebration as well as a planned gathering of Nobel Prize winners in Cap. South Africa has dismissed Tutu’s accusations that it was giving in to pressure from China, a major trading partner.

In early 2016, Tutu defended the policy of reconciliation that ended the white minority regime amid growing frustration from some South Africans who felt they had failed to see the economic opportunities and other benefits. expected since the end of apartheid. Tutu had chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which investigated atrocities committed under apartheid and granted amnesty to some perpetrators, but some people believe more former white officials should have been prosecuted.

South African equality activist Desmond Tutu dies at 90

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Desmond Tutu waves his hand as he walks out of his home in Cape Town, South Africa on Monday, May 6, 2019 (AP Photo, File).

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, west of Johannesburg, and became a teacher before entering St. Peter’s Theological College in Rosetenville in 1958 for priestly training. He was ordained a priest in 1961 and six years later became chaplain of the University of Fort Hare. Relocations to the small southern African kingdom of Lesotho and to Britain followed, with Tutu returning home in 1975. He became Bishop of Lesotho, president of the South African Council of Churches, and in 1985, the first black Anglican bishop of Johannesburg, then in 1986, the first black archbishop of Cape Town. He ordained women priests and promoted homosexual priests.

Tutu was arrested in 1980 for participating in a demonstration and later his passport was confiscated for the first time. He picked it up for trips to the United States and Europe, where he held talks with the UN Secretary General, the Pope, and other religious leaders.

Tutu called for international sanctions against South Africa and talks to end the conflict.

Tutu often organized funeral services after the massacres that marked the 1990-1994 negotiation period. He denounced black-on-black political violence, asking crowds, “Why are we doing this to ourselves?” In a highlight, Tutu defused the rage of thousands of mourners at a county football stadium after the Boipatong massacre of 42 people in 1992, leading the crowd to chants proclaiming their love for God and for them. themselves.

South African equality activist Desmond Tutu dies at 90

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Desmond Tutu delivers remarks at Westminster Abbey in London during the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela on Monday March 3, 2014 (John Stillwell, Pool Photo via AP, File)

After Mandela became president in 1994, he asked Tutu to lead the truth commission to promote racial reconciliation. The panel heard poignant testimonies about torture, killings and other atrocities during apartheid. At some hearings, Tutu openly cried.

“Without forgiveness, there is no future,” he said at the time. The commission’s 1998 report placed much of the blame on the apartheid forces, but also found the African National Congress guilty of human rights violations. The ANC filed a lawsuit to block the publication of the document, which earned it a reprimand from Tutu. “I didn’t struggle to eliminate a group of those who thought they were tin gods and replace them with others who are tempted to think they are,” Tutu said.

In July 2015, Tutu renewed his marriage vows in 1955 with his wife Leah. The Tutus’ four children and other family members surrounded the elderly couple in a church ceremony. “You can see that we have followed the biblical injunction: we have multiplied and we are fruitful,” Tutu told the congregation. “But all of us here want to say thank you … We knew that without you we are nothing.”

Tutu is survived by his wife of 66 years and their four children.

When asked once how he wanted to be remembered, he told The Associated Press: “He loved. He’s laughing. He is crying. He was forgiven. He forgave. Highly privileged.

AP reporter Christopher Torchia contributed to this report.

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