Desmond Tutu: 90 Years Too Soon And Quotes We Will Never Forget


Belle Niba interviewing Desmond Tutu for African Vibes Magazine
Belle Niba interviewing Desmond Tutu for African Vibes Magazine

South Africans are mourning the death of anti-apartheid champion, Desmond Tutu. Tutu has been ill for a long time. In 2013, he was tested for persistent infection and spent time in the hospital in the years to come.

Desmond Tutu died on Sunday, December 26, 2021, at the age of 90. Speaking after the death of clergyman, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tutu’s death is, “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans”.

Brief Background of Desmond Tutu

Six priests carry Desmond Tutu's pine coffin (Photo credit: BBC)
Six priests carry Desmond Tutu’s pine coffin (Photo credit: BBC)

Bishop Desmond Tutu was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal to a teacher father. He proceeded to Johannesburg Bantu High School to complete his secondary education. After completing his education, he trained as a teacher at Pretoria Bantu Normal College. Eventually, he graduated from the University of South Africa in 1954.

Desmond Tutu spent three years as a high school teacher before proceeding to study theology. He was ordained in 1960. However, he continued with his theological studies from 1962 to 1966 in England and bagged a Master of Theology.

His many firsts

He returned to South Africa to teach theology from 1967 to 1972 before returning to England to serve in the capacity of assistant director of a theological institute in London. In 1975, he became the first black person to be appointed Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg.

Desmond Tutu also became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches in 1978. He was also a Bishop of Lesotho from 1976 to 1978. Tutu is an honorary doctor of a number of leading universities in Germany, Britain, and the USA. During his anti-apartheid struggle, Tutu had the following demands:

  • Equal civil rights for all
  • A common system of education
  • The abolition of South Africa’s passport laws
  • The cessation of forced deportation from South Africa to the so-called “homelands”
Bishop Tutu's image lying in state (Photo credit: BBC)
Bishop Tutu’s lying in state ins a cheap coffin (Photo credit: BBC)



Reactions Trailing Bishop Tutu’s Death

Leaders from all over the world continue to mourn the death of Bishop Desmond Tutu. Mourners troop into St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Thursday, December 30, 2021, to pay their last respect to the anti-apartheid hero.

His body lay in a simple pine coffin in the cathedral, the “cheapest available” coffin according to his last request. Desmond Tutu will remain there through Friday 31, December 2021. Memorial services have been taking place ahead of his state funeral on New Year’s Day in Johannesburg.

Many South Africans gather outside St George's oldest cathedral in South Africa to lay wreaths as a sign of respect to the churchman (Photo credit: Reuters)
Many South Africans gather outside St George’s oldest cathedral in South Africa to lay wreaths as a sign of respect to the churchman (Photo credit: Reuters)

Christian community reacts

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba felt sorry for Tutu’s widow, Leah. Speaking about Leah Makgoba said,

“It’s a painful moment for Mama Leah. She is in bereavement. We need to pray for her. We need to love her and continue supporting her even though her husband is no more.”

One of the mourners at the cathedral known as Papi Mzizi recalls to CNN how he previously met the archbishop. Mzizi said,

“He was the moral compass of the country if you like. Tutu never took himself seriously, he was always joking. Always bubbling, always laughing, always telling the truth. He never took himself higher than anyone else. He loves the people and always supports the people.”

The Christian Association of Nigeria leadership was full of encomium for the late archbishop. The statement from by the association read in part,

“We thank God for a life well spent by His great Servant who used every given opportunity to speak a potent voice against the defunct apartheid system of racial segregation and white minority rule in South Africa.”



Other reactions

Bishop Desmond Tutu’s 15 Memorable Quotes

Desmond Tutu is an embodiment of knowledge. His words are always filled with wisdom. Below are some of his most inspiring quotes.

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