Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Prize-Winner and Humanitarian, Dead At 90

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Just one day after Christmas, tough news coming from the other side of the globe.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has died at the age of 90. In his lifetime, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner worked tirelessly for human rights and became an outspoken leader during the struggle to end apartheid in his native South Africa.

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His passing was confirmed by the office of South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who described Tutu as “a leader of principle.”

“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,” Ramaphosa said.

According to a report by The New York Times, the cause of death was cancer. Archbishop Tutu was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997. In 2013, he underwent tests for a persistent infection, and was hospitalized several times in the years since.

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said that Tutu died in a care facility.

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On our side of the map, the loss of Tutu was no less impactful to those who knew him closely.

President Barack Obama took to social media to share his thoughts on the leader shortly after news of his passing surfaced online. Obama posted a photo of himself hugging Tutu, who was affectionately known to some as  “the Arch.”

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“Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for me and so many others.” Obama wrote below the Instagram pic. “A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere. He never lost his impish sense of humor and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly.”

Obama awarded Tutu the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Tutu’s humanitarian and civil rights efforts spanned six decades and following the end of apartheid ended in the early ’90s, he was named chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“[Tutu] was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing,” The Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a statement. “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.”

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