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Fare thee well, Desmond Tutu: Apartheid slayer, compassionate pragmatist

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BY OMONIYI IBIETAN

Desmond Tutu (left) with Nelson MandelaCredit: English.alarabiya.net

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, the ecclesiastical priest, who used the pulpit as a springboard for unequivocal expression of the philosophy of liberation theology, and helped to deliver serial, big and fatal punches onto the Apartheid policy, has passed in the wee hours of today, in Cape Town, South Africa at age 90. President Ramaphosa sounded the death knell hours ago.

The New York Times has described Tutu as the man “whose voice helped slay Apartheid”. The dw.com quoted the Nelson Mandela Foundation, characterising Tutu as “an extraordinary human being” and a key ally of late President Mandela.

A renowned iconography of the anti-Apartheid movement, Tutu received in 1984, the Nobel Peace Prize. The abcnews.com stated that Tutu was saluted by the Nobel Committee “for his clear views and his fearless stance, characteristics which had made him a unifying symbol for all African freedom fighters”.

Following the ascendancy of an equally iconographic Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa after the first multiparty, multiracial democratic election in 43 years, Mandela appointed Tutu to lead the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. Tutu was believed to be the coiner of “Rainbow Nation”, a moniker for Republic of South Africa, used to describe the Republic’s post-Apartheid, relatively open and multiracial sociological stamp.

Ordained a priest in 1960, and having served the calling in Lesotho, Soweto, Johannesburg, among other places, the ecclesiastical phase of Tutu’s calling climaxed in 1986 when he was appointed the first black Archbishop of Cape Town.

Tutu’s transition, coming just a few weeks after the death of President FW de Klerk, “the last Apartheid-era President”, who consciously helped to open up the democratic space leading to the collapse of the official segregation policy, marks an astonishing denouement. President Ramaphosa captures the circumstance more perceptively and with introspection, when he lamented that Tutu’s passage signalled “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans”.

The BBC cited President Ramaphosa, hailing Tutu as “an iconic spiritual leader, anti-Apartheid activist, global human rights campaigner, a patriot without equal, a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the Biblical insight that faith without works is dead, a man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against forces of Apartheid, yet so tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence around the world”.

By my reckoning, Tutu’s life and times have been charitably and deservedly captured. He was a decidedly dedicated Christian patriot, statesman, a global thought leader with a rare ecumenical spirit in truth and indeed. He raised the banner of what it means to be human and to be a leader. I will personally miss him because he enriched the African civilisation.

May God, The Almighty, forgive his imperfections, rest his great soul and comfort his family as well as all those affected by his transition. May Africa rise again.

Source: Facebook

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