The death of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a veteran of the struggle against apartheid and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has seen condolences pour in from leaders around the world.
President Muhammadu Buhari joined other world leaders to mourn the death of the iconic freedom fighter, who died yesterday at the age of 90.
President Buhari on behalf of government and people of Nigeria, condoled with President Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africans and the global Christian body, particularly Anglican Communion, over passing of the Archbishop Emeritus.
According to a statement issued by Presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina, President Buhari believes the death of the iconic teacher, human rights activist, leader of thought, scholar and philanthropist, further creates a void in a world in dire need of wisdom, integrity, courage and sound reasoning, which were qualities that the Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1984, typified and exemplified in words and actions.
President Buhari affirmed the historic role Archbishop Tutu played in the fight against apartheid, enduring physical assaults, jail terms and prolonged exile that took him beyond the pulpit to global, political relevance, and his position, under President Nelson Mandela in heading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which provided healing and direction for his country and the world.
United Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Twitter he is “deeply saddened” by Tutu’s passing.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a towering global figure for peace & justice, voice of the voiceless & inspiration to people everywhere. We will continue to draw strength from his humanity, passion & resolve to fight for a better world for all.
“A towering global figure for peace and justice, voice of the voiceless and inspiration to people everywhere,” Guterres said.
“We will continue to draw strength from his humanity, passion and resolve to fight for a better world for all, he added.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, dedicated to the South African anti-apartheid political leader and an ally of Tutu, praised the archbishop’s legacy.
“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. He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd,” it said.
Also, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, who announced the death of 90-year-old Tutu, said his loss was “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa.”
“Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead,” Ramaphosa said.
John Steenhuisen, leader of the South African opposition party Democratic Alliance, said “a true South African giant has left us today, but his spirit will live on in the everyday kindness we South Africans show each other, and in our continued effort to build a united, successful, non-racial South Africa for all. When we lost our way, he was the moral compass that brought us back.”
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tutu’s passing was “a big blow not only to the Republic of South Africa, where he leaves behind huge footprints as an anti-apartheid hero, but to the entire African continent where he is deeply respected and celebrated as a peacemaker”.
“Archbishop Tutu inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle,” he said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Tutu a “voice for the oppressed” adding that the 90-year-old was a “tireless advocate for human rights”.
“Sending my deepest condolences to his loved ones, the people of South Africa, and everyone mourning this incredible loss,” he tweeted.
“Archbishop Tutu was a voice for the oppressed and a tireless advocate for human rights – and the world is a better place because he was in it. Sending my deepest condolences to his loved ones, the people of South Africa, and everyone mourning this incredible loss,” he added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply saddened” by Tutu’s death, calling him a “critical figure” in defeating apartheid and building a new South Africa.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa – and will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humour.
“He was a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa – and will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humour,” Johnson tweeted.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said Tutu was “a great little man who showed the power of reconciliation and forgiveness”.
“Tutu’s point was that injustice and abuse must not be forgotten, but that at the same time it must not be avenged if a society was to move on,” Stoere said.
The Vatican said in a statement Pope Francis was saddened and offered “heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones”.
“Mindful of his service to the gospel through the promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa, his holiness commends his soul to the loving mercy of almighty God,” the Vatican said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Tutu had “dedicated his life to human rights and equality between peoples.”
“His struggle for the end of apartheid and for reconciliation in South Africa will remain in our memory,” he tweeted.
European Council president Charles Michel offered sympathy to Tutu’s family, Ramaphosa and to South African people.
“A man who gave his life to freedom with a deep commitment to human dignity. A giant who stood up against apartheid. You will be deeply missed,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It’s with sadness that I have learned of Archbishop Tutu’s passing. A man who gave his life to freedom with a deep commitment to human dignity. A giant, who stood up against Apartheid. You will be deeply missed,” he said.
European Union foreign policy Chief Josep Borrell said: “Desmond Tutu did a lot of good for the world. His legacy of resistance to Apartheid and to inequalities lives on in today’s South Africa and for all humankind.”
In a statement, former US president Barack Obama called Tutu “a mentor, a friend and a moral compass for me and so many others.
“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 humour and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly.”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said: “One of his sayings is terse, but forceful and true: ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’”
The World Council of Churches in a statement noted that Tutu’s “Contagious sense of humour and laughter has helped to resolve many critical situations in South Africa’s political and church life.
“He was able to break almost any deadlock. He shared with us the laughter and grace of God many a time,” it said.
The UK’s Queen Elizabeth II said she was “deeply saddened” by Tutu’s death, calling him a “man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world”.
“I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humour,” she said in a statement, adding that his death “will be felt by the people of South Africa, and by so many people in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in such high affection and esteem.”