Desmond Mpilo Tutu, the South African Anglican bishop and theologian known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, died at the age of 90 on 26 December. The clergyman, who in 1984 received the Nobel Prize for Peace, emerged as one of the most prominent opponents of South Africa’s apartheid system of racial segregation and white minority rule and remained a critic of Black majority rule afterwards. In a moving tribute, London-based Zimbabwean billionaire businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa writes about the significance of Tutu’s life and what young Africans should learn from it.
For me Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the best example of the dictum of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Word of God and if you must, use words”. He was the most “fearless” person I ever knew.
I’m almost 61, and in those years I have known about many powerful people BUT if I had to find one person who epitomized the word “fearless”, it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu!
He feared absolutely no one, and was ready to tell off the highest level person from any country anywhere, if they stepped out of line: “Without fear or favour”.
He was beholden to no man, except God, whether someone believed in Him or not!
There were no “sacred cows” for him. He showed us that moral authority is the highest form of authority on earth.
“He was a burning and shining light”.
I had the singular honour to have known him [personally] during the last phase of his remarkable career, even though I knew about him ever since I was a child. In quiet times, just the two of us, I knew that he had a deep faith, but I also knew that he had a peculiar way to communicate the love of God even to non-believers.
The best way to honour the memory of “The Arch” [that is what his closest associates called him, or simply “Arch”] Is to learn about him properly. When you have studied about him, be sure to gift his books to those in your own generation [and younger].
This is the time to buy his books and his biographies, and actually read them. You need to understand his work during the struggle against Apartheid, and in the period to end it, with particular emphasis on The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and his role afterwards with The Elders.
Some of you have already shared some touching tributes. I will close with just one written earlier today by one of our platform members here from South Sudan [where Arch spent some time by the way, when he was Chair of the Elders].
My condolences to the family, friends of Arch and entire nation of Africa. I celebrate the life that was lived radiating the light of God in the dark world. Great Africans (who have passed on and those still living) have legacies that can’t fade away. Their works (like the ones of Arch) will keep us going and inspired to defeat the darkness in our individual 54 states. May God raise more Tutus to light Africa the more.
Image credit: Kathi Walther Bouma, Ubuntu Hope. 60th wedding anniversary renewal of wedding vows with the Arch and Mama Leah Tutu, St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, 4 July 2015.
For more information about the Arch, his work, and upcoming funeral and memorial arrangements: https://www.facebook.com/TutuLegacyFoundation/