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Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu dies at 90

Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu dies at 90
Desmond Tutu at his 75th birthday party in Beverly Hills, California in 2006.
(Photo credit: / Tinseltown)

South African Archbishop and human rights activist Desmond Tutu has died at the age of 90.

“The loss of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu is immeasurable,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation stated in an official statement on Dec. 26. “He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world, his life has been a blessing.”

Tutu, Johannesburg’s first Black bishop, and Mandela were two of the most important figures in ending apartheid in the 1990s. Apartheid was an oppressive and discriminatory system that ensured South Africa’s minority White population remained its most powerful.

“What you have to realize is that the primary violence in South Africa is apartheid,” Tutu told reporters in 1986, according to The Washington Post. “Let me be clear. Any death is one too many. But 1,000 of our people have been killed, most by the South African security forces, and on the whole, the expression of outrage has not been commensurable with the statistics. Then when you have a few White people killed, the world suddenly talks about terrorism and it doesn’t say anything about the terrorism of a 1,000 deaths that have happened when people have been trying to carry out peaceful demonstrations . . .

“Our people are patient to a fault. We have called for peaceful change and we have absolutely nothing to show for our efforts and patience.”

When Mandela was released from prison and became president of South Africa, he appointed Tutu as the chair of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In 2009, American President Barack Obama presented Tutu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On the “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” in 2009, Tutu did a dance when Obama’s historic election was mentioned during the interview.

“There was a time when you wished America would disappear from the face of the Earth,” Tutu said. “There was a lot of anger, not against Americans, there was a lot of anger against a lot of the policies of a particular administration. The apparent arrogance … America is experiencing kind of a Mandela moment.”

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