By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA
Long before Nelson Mandela won his freedom from 27 years of imprisonment fighting apartheid in South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu earned the moniker “the nation’s conscience.”
White and Black residents of the popular African nation lauded the bishop for his relentless fight to unite races and end the racist system of apartheid.
South Africa’s leading advocate for change and reconciliation under a Black majority rule and the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Bishop Tutu, died in Cape Town on December 26 at the age of 90. South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa first confirmed the bishop’s passing.
“He was a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead,” President Ramaphosa exclaimed. A spokesperson for the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said Bishop Tutu succumbed to cancer after a decades long battle with the disease.Bishop Tutu reportedly had been hospitalized several times in the years since his 1997 diagnosis but continued his work.
His demands for freedom and advocating that justice be accomplished in a nonviolent manner helped earn Bishop Tutu the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Born on Oct. 7, 1931, in Klerksdorp, South Africa, Bishop Tutu’s mother, Aletha, was a domestic worker, and his father, Zacharia, was a teacher.
Bishop Tutu was baptized a Methodist, but his family would later join the Anglican Church, according to his official biography. When he was 12, his family moved to Johannesburg.
Bishop Tutu often spoke of Rev. Trevor Huddleston, a white preacher who opposed apartheid. Rev. Huddleston earned the young Tutu’s admiration because of a simple gesture: Rev. Huddleston tipped his hat to Tutu’s mother.