Africa Renowned anti-apartheid figure Archbishop Desmond Tutu turns 90

Renowned anti-apartheid figure Archbishop Desmond Tutu turns 90

Retired South African cleric and anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu turned 90 on Thursday with a special service at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town.

Tutu rose to prominence in the 1980s for his strong role in opposing apartheid rule in South Africa, emphasizing nonviolent protests and encouraging the application of economic pressure on the apartheid regime.

He has been a global champion for human rights, equality and social justice in the 59 years since his ordination.

Tutu served as the first black archbishop at the St. Georges Cathedral in Cape Town in the 1980s and won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize

He was also the Chairperson of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the new democratic government in 1995 to help heal and reconcile the country by unearthing human rights violations that occurred during the apartheid regime.

Several prominent figures sent Tutu well wishes, including the country’s president

“You continue to remind us that fellowship, solidarity, charity and compassion for the vulnerable are values common to us all, and we should strive to live by them each day,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his message.

Acting presidential spokesman Tyrone Seale said Ramaphosa expressed “his deep regard for Tutu for a life that has been well-lived in honesty, integrity, fearlessness and service to humanity in South Africa and globally” and acknowledged “the moral and ethical guidance Archbishop Tutu keeps providing to the nation even after liberation.”

“At times when we have found ourselves losing our way, you have taken us well to task. For nearly three decades, yours has been a voice of conscience, guiding us and motivating us to do better by our people,” said Ramaphosa.

Tutu is in the league of renowned anti-apartheid activists who opposed white minority rule in South Africa, including late President Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni and imam Abdullah Haron who died 52 years ago while opposing racism.

Haron, who died at the age of 45, had been held in solidarity confinement in a police cell for more than 100 days leading to his mysterious death on Sept 27, 1969.

He was posthumously awarded the Order of Luthuli in Gold for his exceptional contribution to raising awareness of political injustices by the South African government in 2014 for his role in the struggle against apartheid.​​​​​​​