Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a giant in the fight against apartheid in South Africa, has died at 90.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa confirmed his death in a statement.
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He said Tutu’s death opened “Another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa”.
Tutu was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984 for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system.
As an anti-apartheid icon and Nelson Mandela’s contemporary, Tutu was one of the driving forces behind the movement to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.
Ramaphosa described Tutu as an “An iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist and global human rights campaigner”, calling him “a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead”.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in his condolence message on Sunday, commiserated with President Ramaphosa, South Africans and the global Christian body, particularly Anglican Communion, over the passing of Archbishop Emeritus.
The President, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, said the death of the iconic teacher, human rights activist, leader of thought, scholar and philanthropist, further created a void in a world in dire need of wisdom, integrity, courage and sound reasoning, which were qualities that the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1984, typified and exemplified in words and actions.
In his tribute, former President Olusegun Obasanjo recalled the role played by late South African elder statesman, in getting Nigeria’s foreign debt cancelled during his presidency.
Obasanjo noted Tutu’s “heroic advocacy effort of his with respect to Nigeria’s indebtedness to the Paris Club on behalf of Nigeria was very much in his character.”
He said this in a condolence letter to the South African President, mourning Tutu who died on Sunday.
Obasanjo described his death as a personal loss to him.
“Again, I must acknowledge his uncommon solidarity and the deep passion with which he had argued Nigeria’s case for full debt cancellation by the contents of his letter to Mr. Gordon Brown, the then United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, during my administration as the President of Nigeria.
“This heroic advocacy effort of his with respect to Nigeria’s indebtedness to the Paris Club on behalf of Nigeria was very much in his character,” the former president said.
By Abdulyassar Abdulhamid, Muideen Olaniyi, Abuja & Peter Moses, Abeokuta