Buhari, Obasanjo, Ramaphosa mourn as anti-apartheid icon Tutu dies at 90

December 26, 2021
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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday, condoled with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, and South Africans on the demise of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The South African anti-apartheid icon died on Sunday at the age of 90, a statement by the Minister in the Presidency of South Africa, Mondli Gungubele, said.

Buhari, according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, described him as a global citizen and renowned world leader.

He noted that the historic role Tutu played in the fight against apartheid, enduring physical assaults, jail terms and prolonged exile took him beyond the pulpit to global, political relevance, and his position, under President Nelson Mandela, in heading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, provided healing and direction for his country and the world.

The statement said, “On behalf of government and people of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari condoles with President Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africans and the global Christian body, particularly Anglican Communion, over passing of Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, 90, on Sunday, December 26, 2021.

“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, 1984, typified and exemplified in words and actions.”

According to the statement, the President sent his condolences to Leah Tutu, the spouse of the spiritual leader and lifelong partner in the struggle against injustice, corruption and inequality; the Tutu family; the board and staff of Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation; the Elders, and Nobel Laureate Group.

It said the voice of the scholar and teacher, his published works, and inspirational quotes would resonate through generations, bringing more light and clarity to religious diversity, democracy and good governance.

Tutu supported Nigeria’s debt relief efforts, Obasnajo

A former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, described the death of the human rights crusader as a personal loss to him.

Obasanjo, in a condolence letter to Ramaphosa, recalled the role played by Tutu in getting Nigeria’s debt cancelled.

The letter, which was released by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, said “Tutu had been part of building and strengthening the Anglican Church, and its eminent place in the Church system in South Africa today is not unrelated to his selfless service and leadership.”

Obasanjo acknowledged Tutu’s “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”.

He said, “Over the years, Tutu had shown focused, credible, bold, sensitive and purposeful leadership not just to members of the Anglican Church but to all Christians. 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.

“Reverend Tutu was a patriotic and highly respected teacher, preacher, intercessor and field commander of the Lord’s Army. He symbolised one of our finest examples of how a life truly dedicated to our Saviour Jesus Christ can make a difference. He had been a difference-maker for his family, his friends, his flock, his community, the church, the Republic of South Africa and, indeed, the world.

“Reverend Tutu was an unparalleled visionary leader within the church with profound knowledge of the Bible and the Word with an admirable, grasp and appreciation of history. He was also a televangelist and a strong believer in the unity of believers worldwide as a transformational tool for development.

“He had very impressive pro-democracy credentials, and was always ready to partner with forces of justice, equity, and fairness universally. I had a personal experience of the way God used him through my relationship and association with him as a man of God. He worked very closely with us in the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. His insights, understanding and pieces of advice and suggestions on the way forward ending apartheid in South Africa were extremely valuable.

“He, by himself, was a consummate leader, fearless and quite daring. When most of the political leaders in South Africa were in jail, he was almost a one-man riot using both religion and Holy Bible against apartheid. He was simply like a thorn in the flesh of the white-ruled South Africa’s Nationalist Party.

“Though we are saddened by the inevitable finality of his passage, as we will miss his fiery sermons, writings and fatherly counsel, we should be comforted by the fact that he left a good legacy behind and his memory will linger on for very long time in the minds of his admirers, friends, protégés, immediate community, congregants and, indeed, Christendom.”

He was a patriot without equal – Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa, in the statement announcing Tutu’s death, described his passing of as “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa”.

He said, “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. 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.

“As chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he articulated the universal outrage at the ravages of apartheid and touchingly and profoundly demonstrated the depth of meaning of ubuntu, reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Ramaphosa noted that Tutu placed his extensive academic achievements at the service of South Africa’s struggle and at the service of the cause for social and economic justice the world over.

He said, “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.

“In his richly inspiring yet challenging life, Desmond Tutu overcame tuberculosis, the brutality of the apartheid security forces and the intransigence of successive apartheid regimes. Neither Casspirs, teargas nor security agents could intimidate him or deter him from his steadfast belief in our liberation.

“He remained true to his convictions during our democratic dispensation and maintained his vigour and vigilance as he held leadership and the burgeoning institutions of our democracy to account in his inimitable, inescapable and always fortifying way.

“We share this moment of deep loss with Mam Leah Tutu, the Archbishop’s soulmate and source of strength and insight, who has made a monumental contribution in her own right to our freedom and to the development of our democracy. We pray that Archbishop Tutu’s soul will rest in peace but that his spirit will stand sentry over the future of our nation.”

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