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WATCH: Tutu unafraid to speak truth to power over the decades

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu died at 90. He was a symbol of hope and defiance.

Many people will remember Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for his friendly demeanour, his self-deprecating humour and ability to light up any room. However Tutu's legacy also involves a strong sense of justice which he exercised tirelessly during the fight against apartheid. 

Tutu's calling to the ministry led to direct conflict with the apartheid regime which saw him banned from travel in 1981. 

At the time he was asked whether this would stop his fight against apartheid and he defiantly answered: “There is nothing they can do to me which is going to stop our liberation, and we're going to be free.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu became SA's second Nobel peace laureate in 1984. File photo.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu became SA's second Nobel peace laureate in 1984. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Oryx Media Archive

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. 

This defiant streak followed Tutu into the democratic dispensation when he clashed with the government over its 2011 decision to disallow the Dalai Lama to visit SA.

“This government, our government is worse than the apartheid government, because at least we were expecting it with the apartheid government, (from) our government we were expecting that now we would have a government that was sensitive to the sentiments of our constitution,” he said. 

Tutu died on December 26 in Cape Town. He had battled prostate cancer for over two decades and at 90 years old was quite frail. 

Announcing his death, President Cyril Ramaphosa said 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.”


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