Tributes paid to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who has died aged 90

Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson are among those paying tributes.

Tributes paid to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who has died aged 90 iStock
Tutu: Death confirmed on Boxing Day.

Tributes are flooding in for Archbishop Desmond Tutu after the famed social activist and anti-apartheid hero died aged 90.

The Nobel Peace prize laureate who helped end the racial segregation in South Africa died in Cape Town on Boxing Day.

The Queen, Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson have all been paying their respects to the man described as a living embodiment of faith in action”.

His death was announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who said it was “another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa.

“Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.

“We pray that Archbishop Tutu’s soul will rest in peace but that his spirit will stand sentry over the future of our nation.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among the first paying their respects to a man who “made the world a better place”.

She said: “Such sad news this morning … but his was a life that made the world a better place.

“Rest in peace, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.”

And in a message of condolence, the Queen said the whole royal family were “deeply saddened” by the news.

She said: “I am joined by the whole Royal Family in being deeply saddened by the news of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world.

“I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humour. Archbishop Tutu’s loss will be felt by the people of South Africa, and by so many people in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in such high affection and esteem.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tutu would be remembered for his leadership and humour.

He said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“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.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tweeted: “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a prophet and priest, a man of words and action – one who embodied the hope and joy that were the foundations of his life.

“Even in our profound sorrow we give thanks for a life so well lived. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

In a statement released online, he added: “The death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (always known as Arch) is news that we receive with profound sadness – but also with profound gratitude as we reflect upon his life.

“My prayers and condolences are with his family and all who loved him, with the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa, and all of the people of South Africa.

“Arch’s love transformed the lives of politicians and priests, township dwellers and world leaders. The world is different because of this man.”

Piyushi Kotecha, chief executive of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, and chairman Niclas Kjellstrom-Matseke said in a statement that Tutu was “a living embodiment of faith in action”.

In a statement on the foundation’s website, they added he spoke “boldly against racism, injustice, corruption and oppression, not just in apartheid South Africa but wherever in the world he saw wrongdoing, especially when it impacted the most vulnerable and voiceless in society.”

According to the trust, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town. A cause of death has not been given.

Nicknamed “The Arch”, Tutu was made the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986 and was a driving force to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.

His work led to him receiving numerous doctorates and academic awards from all over the world. He retired from public life in 2010 yet continued to do charity work through the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which highlighted the friendship between the pair, said the loss of Tutu is “immeasurable”.

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

Lord Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “Whilst we mourn the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, let us celebrate the life of a man who stood up for justice and practised reconciliation.

“May his Christian witness and example long continue to inspire us.”