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Social Activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Dead at 90

Social Activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Dead at 90

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African social activist, died on December 26 in Cape Town. He was 90.

Tutu was largely considered the “moral conscience of the nation” and helped fight apartheid in South Africa.

“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,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said, according to The Guardian. “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.”

A cleric, Tutu had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and in recent years required hospitalizations because of infections. He died peacefully, his relatives told reporters.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama remembered Tutu, calling him “a mentor, a friend and a moral compass for me and so many others.”

The Queen asserted that Tutu “tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world.”

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also issued his condolences and called Tutu a “prophet and priest, a man of words and action – one who embodied the hope and joy that were the foundations of his life.”

In Cape Town, there will be a seven-day mourning period, including a two-day lying in state, an ecumenical service and an Anglican requiem mas at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, before Tutu’s burial.

Cape Town’s Table Mountain will also be lit in purple.

Tutu was born in a farming town about 100 miles southwest of Johannesburg. He first became a teacher before becoming an Anglican priest. He later earned an M.A. in theology from King’s College London.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work in South Africa.

In 1986, he was appointed archbishop of Cape Town.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/WPA Pool/Pool

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.