ADDIS ABABA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Work have today joined world leaders in paying tribute to South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran of South Africa’s struggle against white minority rule, died on Sunday morning at the age of 90.
“I join other world leaders in expressing my sadness at the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu,” Prime Minister Abiy said in his message of condolences to South Africans.
Abiy described South Africa’s retired archbishop and as “embodiment of the struggle for liberation”.
“Ethiopia sends its condolences to the people and government of South Africa,” he added.
Tutu was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984 for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.
Famously outspoken, even after the fall of the racist apartheid regime, Tutu never shied away from confronting South Africa’s shortcomings or injustices.
“Desmond Tutu was an African and global icon. His intolerance to injustice led him everywhere where justice was threatened,” President Sahle-Work.
Sahle-Work said the Archbishop “spoke truth to power” and “preached and practiced forgiveness”.
“He will be remembered for his unmatched courage and wisdom. A life worth celebrating. RIP,” the President said.
Earlier African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called Tutu “a true shepherd of peace”. The cause of his death has not been made public.
Reports say Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and, in recent years, was hospitalised on several occasions to treat infections associated with his treatment.
“Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” Dr Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust, said in a statement on behalf of the Tutu family.
Featured Image Caption: An uncompromising foe of apartheid, Tutu worked tirelessly, though non-violently, for its downfall. [File: John Stillwell, Pool via AP]