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Ramaphosa, Buhari, Obasanjo, Jonathan mourn as Desmond Tutu dies at 90

By Victor Gbonegun (Lagos), Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
27 December 2021   |   4:10 am
Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa, Muhammadu Buhari, ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Yemi Farounbi....

Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Laureate, drinks some water during a service at St. GeorgeÕs Cathedral to celebrate his 90th birthday, in Cape Town, on October 07, 2021. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)

Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa, Muhammadu Buhari, ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Yemi Farounbi, have mourned South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero and Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died yesterday at 90.

In his speech announcing the passing, the South African leader, Ramaphosa, submitted: “The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa.”

IN his condolence message signed by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, President Buhari said the death of the iconic teacher, human rights activist, leader of thought, scholar and philanthropist has further created a void in a world in dire need of wisdom, integrity, courage and sound reasoning.

He recalled the historic role Archbishop Tutu played in the fight against minority rule, enduring physical assaults, jail terms and prolonged exile.

The Nigerian leader observed that 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.

In a condolence letter issued yesterday in Abeokuta by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo recollected the role played by Tutu in getting Nigeria’s debt cancelled, declaring that his death was a personal loss to him.

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

ALSO, ex-President Jonathan, in his tribute, described the deceased as someone, who used his privileged position not only to win souls and make disciples, but equally mobilised and advocated for the freedom of the people of South Africa and promoted justice and democracy across the continent.

According to him, Africa, and indeed the rest of the world, “will miss Bishop Tutu as he was the continent’s foremost voice of reason and conscience.”

ON his part, Farounbi, eulogised the late South African as a great man who fought for the right and freedom of the black.

He told The Guardian in Ibadan, Oyo State that Tutu’s name would ring loud anytime the apartheid struggle is being discussed, adding that he sacrificed everything for black people.

The South African Presidency, however, did not give details of the cause of the cleric’s death. It noted that Tutu distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights.

The late South African won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to apartheid. A decade later, he witnessed the end of that regime and chaired a truth and reconciliation commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed during those dark days.

Even after the end of apartheid, Tutu never wavered in his fight for a fairer South Africa and he called on the Black political elite to account with as much feistiness as he had the white Afrikaners.

He was a longtime friend of Nelson Mandela and lived for a time on the same street in the South African township of South West Town (Soweto), Vilakazi Street, the only one in the world to host two Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and in recent years he was hospitalised on several occasions to treat infections associated with his cancer treatment.

The rights fighter was a man of strong faith and conviction, but also of words. He did not hesitate to use humour and anger to express his values and outrage.