Obama Hails Archbishop Tutu As Mentor, ‘Moral Compass’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 21, 2006 Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner meets with Barack Obama, US senator for Illinois at Tutu’s offices in Cape Town. – South African anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, described as the country’s moral compass, died on December 26, 2021, aged 90, President Cyril Ramaphosa said. (Photo by Rodger BOSCH / AFP)

 

Former US president Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black leader, on Sunday hailed late Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a towering figure and “moral compass” who fought against injustice in South Africa and elsewhere.

Tutu, a fellow Nobel Peace laureate, “was a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for me and so many others,” Obama said in a statement.

“A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere,” Obama said, adding that Tutu sought to “find humanity in his adversaries.”

“Michelle and I will miss him dearly,” he said.

Obama in 2009 presented Tutu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Another former US president and Nobel Peace laureate, Jimmy Carter, issued condolences on the death of the 90-year-old Tutu, a friend whose ministry he said exemplified “love, freedom and compassion.”

“He lived his values in the long struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, in his leadership of the national campaign for truth and reconciliation, and in his role as a global citizen,” Carter, age 97, said in a statement.

“His warmth and compassion offered us a spiritual message that is eternal.”

When Tutu visited the White House in 2009, then-president Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for preaching amid teargas and “rallying a people against apartheid.”

“Tribune of the downtrodden, voice of the oppressed, cantor of our conscience, Desmond Tutu possesses that sense of generosity, that spirit of unity, that essence of humanity that South Africans know simply as ‘Ubuntu’,” Obama said at the time.

‘Prisoner Of Hope’: Tributes Pour In For Tutu

In this file photo taken on March 19, 2003, This combo picture shows the former chairman of South Africa’s Truth Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks during an interview with AFP in Pretoria. PHOTO: ALEXANDER JOE / AFP

 

South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu died Sunday aged 90, sparking tributes from around the world. 

 

Here are some of those tributes:

– UK PM Boris Johnson –

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply saddened” by Tutu’s death, calling him a “critical figure” in defeating apartheid and building a new South Africa.

“He was a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa — and will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humour,” Johnson tweeted.


– The Elders –

Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, said “we are all devastated at the loss of Archbishop Desmond Tutu”.

“He inspired me to be a ‘prisoner of hope’, in his inimitable phrase,” said Robinson, who is also the former president of Ireland.

The Elders, of which Tutu was a founding member, said in a statement they “lost a dear friend, whose infectious laugh and mischievous sense of humour delighted and charmed them all”.

“We are all devastated at the loss,” it said in a statement Sunday.

“The world has lost an inspiration — but one whose achievements will never be forgotten, and whose commitment to peace, love and the fundamental equality of all human beings will endure to inspire future generations.”


– Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta –

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tutu’s passing was “a big blow not only to the Republic of South Africa where he leaves behind huge footprints as an anti-apartheid hero but to the entire African continent where he is deeply respected and celebrated as a peacemaker”.

“Archbishop Tutu inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle,” he said.


– The Nelson Mandela Foundation –

The foundation said the loss of Tutu was “immeasurable”.

“He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing.

“He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd.”

Tutu and Nelson Mandela first met in the 1950s but did not see each other again for decades, on the day Mandela was released from prison in 1990. Mandela stayed at Tutu’s home that night.


– Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town –

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, said the life of Tutu, a “deeply spiritual person”, should be celebrated.

“He named wrong wherever he saw it and by whomever, it was committed. He challenged the systems that demeaned humanity.”

‘I Have Prepared For My Death’: 11 Famous Quotes Of Desmond Tutu

In this file photo taken on February 08, 2010 Archbishop Desmond Tutu gestures as he delivers a speech during a conference for “One Young World”, the World’s largest gathering of Young Leaders, in London. PHOTO: Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died Sunday morning in Cape Town at age 90, was a man of strong faith and conviction, but also of words. 

He did not hesitate to use humour and anger to express his values and outrage.

 

Here are some of his most famous quotes:

– “Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.” (New York Times, October 19, 1984)

– “For goodness sake, will they hear, will white people hear what we are trying to say? Please, all we are asking you to do is to recognize that we are humans, too. When you scratch us, we bleed. When you tickle us, we laugh.” (Statement urging sanctions against South Africa, 1985)

– “Your President is the pits as far as blacks are concerned. He sits there like the great, big white chief of old can tell us black people that we don’t know what is good for us. The white man knows.” (Interview with US press, reacting to Ronald Reagan’s vetoing of economic sanctions apartheid government, 1986)

– “At home in South Africa I have sometimes said in big meetings where you have black and white together: ‘Raise your hands!’ Then I’ve said, ‘Move your hands,’ and I’ve said, ‘Look at your hands — different colours representing different people. You are the rainbow people of God’.” (His book “The Rainbow People of God”, 1994)

– “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid.” (Speech at a UN’s gay rights campaign, 2013).

– “I give great thanks to God that he has created a Dalai Lama. Do you really think, as some have argued, that God will be saying: ‘You know, that guy, the Dalai Lama, is not bad. What a pity he’s not a Christian’? I don’t think that is the case, because, you see, God is not a Christian.” (Speech at Dalai Lama’s birthday, June 2, 2006)

– “He has, I mean, mutated into something that is quite unbelievable. He has really turned into a kind of Frankenstein for his people.” (commenting about Robert Mugabe to Australia’s ABC TV)

– “Our government… says it will not support Tibetans who are being oppressed viciously by the Chinese… I am warning you, I am warning you, that we will pray as we prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government, we will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us.” (On South Africa refusing the Dalai Lama a visa, 2011)

– “I am ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my government.” (After South Africa again denied the Dalai Lama a visa, 2014).

– “Once a Zambian and a South African, it is said, were talking. The Zambian then boasted about their minister of naval affairs. The South African asked, ‘But you have no navy, no access to the sea. How then can you have a minister of naval affairs?’ The Zambian retorted, ‘Well, in South Africa you have a Minister of Justice, don’t you?'” (Nobel lecture, 1984)

– “I have prepared for my death and have made it clear that I do not wish to be kept alive at all costs. I hope I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life’s journey in the manner of my choice.”

AFP