World grieves loss of anti-apartheid champion

Angela Jia '25, Staff Reporter

People around the world mourned the death of ArchBishop Desmond Tutu when he died on Dec. 26, 2021.

Tutu was a Nobel Peace prize winner, staunch LGBTQ supporter, and most notably a passionate non-violent activist who worked tirelessly to bring down South Africa’s oppressive apartheid (a system of lesgislation upheld by an all-white government that enforced the segragation, political, and economic discrimination of its Black majority. It ended in 1994). 

He was the first Black bishop of Johannesburg and later the first Black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, using his position to galvanize the world against racial inequity. 

 However, his activism faced obstacles: he was arrested for joining a protest in 1980, and in 1998 the African National Congress (ANC) sued to block the release of a document exposing its human right violations. Other struggle leaders were forced into exile or even killed. 

Despite this, he has prevailed in his work: comforting victims, exposing the abuses of the apartheid, and even calling out Western government to do more to help. He has consistently stuck with his policy of non-violence, stating that “Without forgiveness, there is no future.” 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was affectionately known to be open about his joy and sadness, with a cheery disposition and near constant smile. Former US President Barack Obama described him as “a moral compass for me and so many others… he never lost his impish sense of humor and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries.”

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said Tutu was “an iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist and global human rights campaigner… a patriot without equal…”

However, Desmond Tutu’s impression went beyond international leaders, as the Riordan community was moved by the Archbishop’s passing as well. 

Joshua Keeney, a Religious Studies teacher, stated, “I thought it was very powerful the way Desmond Tutu was able to correct the man without any violence, showing him how low that comment was [in regards to a racist comment in apartheid South Africa.] A force for peace in the world.” 

Caton Daval-Santos ‘22, a member of Riordan’s Campus Ministry, said, “The world is coping with the loss of Desmond Tutu. He truly showed, in his work, what it meant to be a disciple in Christ, spreading God’s mission of love by carrying himself with compassion and justice.” 

Tutu was motivated by faith and unwavering in his love for his country. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, according to news reports, he said: “He loved. He laughed. He cried. He was forgiven. He forgave. Greatly privileged.”