(CMR) Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a revered South African leader during the struggle to end apartheid, has died. He was 90 years old.
The cause of death was cancer, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said, stating that Archbishop Tutu died in a care facility. The cleric was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 and was hospitalized several times in the years since.
In a statement confirming his death on Sunday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his condolences to Tutu's family and friends, calling him “a patriot without equal.”
”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.
Tutu used his pulpit and spirited oratory to help bring down apartheid in South Africa and became the leading advocate of peaceful reconciliation under Black majority rule.
As the South African Council of Churches leader and later as Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, he led the church to the forefront of Black South Africans’ decades-long struggle for freedom.
Archbishop Tutu preached that the policy of apartheid was as dehumanizing to the oppressors as it was to the oppressed. At home, he stood against looming violence and sought to bridge the chasm between Black and white; abroad, he urged economic sanctions against the South African government to force a change of policy.