Desmond Tutu will never be forgotten

Desmond Tutu

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu claps at the end of the press conference which concludes the activities of the TRC at the TRC offices in Cape Town on October 27, 1998. South African anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, described as the country's moral compass, died on December 26, 2021 aged 90.

Photo credit: Courtesy | AFP

Mourners paid their respects to Nobel laureate, legendary campaigner against racism Archbishop Desmond Tutu ahead of his burial on Saturday in Cape Town.

The anti-Apartheid icon died recently at 90 at a time when the world is in desperate need of such authentic and honest voices.

Tutu’s voice was constantly heard as a symbol of resistance against racial prejudice. He spoke for peace and nonviolence in a variety of arenas and disseminated the word. When the African National Congress (ANC) waged a major campaign against racism in South Africa under Nelson Mandela’s leadership, he led a public outcry to protest the freedom fighter’s almost three-decade imprisonment.

 As head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1994 after Nelson Mandela became President, ‘The People’s Archbishop’ was the eloquent spokesperson for millions of blacks. The global advocate for human rights and humanity created the name “Rainbow Nation” for South Africa.

Despite being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, he maintained his activities, which embodied a vision of fairness in which the whole world placed its confidence — the poor and oppressed people’s strength in the face of injustice and racial prejudice.

Humanitarian activities

Tutu’s contributions to the church and his humanitarian activities have influenced topics ranging from Palestine to Tibet. He was the first black pastor to engage in a new and significant discussion of the Bible, including homosexual rights and abortion.

Tutu cherished life. He was a dreamer of everyday objects such as black coffee, literature and simple pleasures who desired an end to all sorts of prejudice in the world. Ever laughing and giggling, he was tremendously popular. With enormous tenderness, he would stroll with his hands on your shoulders. There was no distinction of colour, race or age.

Now that he has departed this world, the ground seems numb and the eyes are sorrowful. But to his admirers, Tutu may be gone but will never be forgotten.

Mr Surjit is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton, Canada. [email protected].