Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Prize winner and leader who was a key figure in ending apartheid in South Africa, has died at 90, the country’s president confirmed today.
“Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” Dr Ramphela Mamphele said in a statement on behalf of the Tutu family. No details were provided on the cause.
President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a statement immediately following that news.
“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,” Ramaphosa said in a statement early Sunday.
“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.”
In 1984, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent fight against apartheid in South Africa.
Tutu was extremely active in the media world. He appeared as himself in numerous documentaries on South Africa, amassing 108 credits. But he also did the Charlie Rose and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson talk shows, and was a voiceover on the animated Jock The Hero Dog, a coming of age family story.
He was the first Black bishop of Johannesburg and later first Black Archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu was also a vocal activist for racial justice and LGBTQ rights across the world.
In 1990, Nelson Mandela spent his first night of freedom at Tutu’s residence in Cape Town. Tutu later headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that examined apartheid’s history.
“His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a statement after Tutu’s death.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Leah, and their four children.