- 26 Dec 21
The death of the great South African anti-Apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu was announced this morning by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. Now the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins has responded to the news...
The President of Ireland. Michael D. Higgins, has praised the legacy of the great anti-apartheid campaigner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died yesterday art the age of 90.
Desmond Tutu started his professional life as a teacher, but decided to become an Anglican priest in response to the frustration he felt about the difficulties faced in educating black children in apartheid South Africa.
“It is with great sadness that people all over the world will have learned of the death today of Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” President Higgins said, in a special statement.
"With the passing of Desmond Tutu, the world has lost not only a great spiritual leader but a great advocate for an informed, sensitive and caring society, defined by compassion and kindness.”
Desmond Tutu was a key figure in dismantling the apartheid regime in South Africa. But, the President said, what he achieved there had reverberations right across the world.
"Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a man of profound wisdom and as a character that emphasised hope and possibility. Drawing strength from his belief that forgiveness has the potential to free an individual from the confines of past hurt, his inspirational leadership was a source for what was life-changing, not only for South Africa, but for countless people throughout the world, giving a voice to those most in need.
"Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be forever remembered for his work in drawing global attention to the horrific inequalities of Apartheid, a moral energy he communicated in those early statements issued in the most dangerous and difficult circumstances. That fullness was reflected in his continued emphasis on the power of love and compassion in post-Apartheid South Africa.”
There were unique links between Desmond Tutu and Ireland.
"His death will be felt by all those in Ireland who made themselves part of the anti-Apartheid movement,” the President said. “(Including) those Dunne Stores workers who took part in the strike against Apartheid in the 1980s, and to whom he often referred. Indeed, many who will have valued Archbishop Tutu’s support for the strikes will in particular recall his meeting with striking workers Karen Gearon and Mary Manning, along with union official Brendan Archbold, at a stopover in London on his way to receiving the Nobel Prize in 1984.”
Peaceful activism is central to the legacy of Desmond Tutu.
"On the recent occasion of his 90th birthday,” President Michael D. Higgins said, "I suggested that we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Desmond Tutu who, through love, empathy and forgiveness has renewed, again and again, the joyful possibilities of our world, reminding us of all that can be achieved if we place a profound spirit of shared humanity at the centre of our policies, our actions and our aspirations.
"For all of this search and celebration of hope, he was and remains a talismanic figure, a courageous practitioner of peaceful activism. He never held back or counted the cost. He leaves an extraordinary legacy in human rights activism of the best kind for South Africa and for the world.
"On behalf of the Irish people, I extend my sympathies to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s family, many friends and colleagues, and the millions in the world who mourn him today.”
LARGER THAN LIFE
President Cyril Ramaphosa himself made the announcement this morning.
"The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation's farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans, who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa,” the South African President said.
"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," the South African President said, hailing the man who went on to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. "A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world."
The Nelson Mandela Foundation described Tutu as "an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd.
"He was larger than life," the foundation's statement added, "and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing."
As a committed human rights activist, Desmond Tutu spoke out on a variety of topics, including gay rights, climate change, assisted death and Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.
U2 had a long association with Desmond Tutu. He is mentioned in 'Silver and Gold' the song which Bono and U2 wrote for Sun City – an anti-apartheid album put together by Little Steven – and which also appeared on U2's Rattle and Hum double album.
"It's a song written about a man in a shantytown outside of Johannesburg," Bono explains, in a spoken-word section,
"A man who's sick of looking down the barrel of white South Africa
"A man who is at the point where he is ready to take up arms against his oppressor
"A man who has lost faith in the peace makers of the west
"While they argue and while they fail to support a man like Bishop Tutu
"And his request for economic sanctions against South Africa
"Am I bugging you
"Don't mean to bug ya
"OK, Edge, play the blues...".
The band included a short speech by the Archbishop, during the 360º Tour, in 2010, positioned between the end of ‘Walk On’ and ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’.
"The same people who marched for civil rights in the United States,” the Archbishop said in the U2 show, "are the same people who protested Apartheid in South Africa, who are the same people who worked for peace in Ireland and are the same people who fought against debt slavery in the Jubilee Year 2000, who are the same beautiful people that I see when I look around this place tonight in 360 degrees.
"We are those people.
"We are the same person.
"Because our voices were heard, millions more of our brothers and sisters are alive, thanks to the miracle of aids drugs and malaria drugs. They will be doctors, they will be ministers, they will be scientists, who will live to solve great problems.
"Yes, there are many obstacles.
"Of course there are always roadblocks in the way of justice.
"But God will put a wind at our back and a rising road ahead. If we work with each other as one…"
- Film & TV
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- Film & TV
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