DESMOND TUTU – “The Sun has gone down”

DESMOND TUTU – “The Sun has gone down”

Desmond Tutu, 90, the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town and fierce critic of the racist apartheid regime died Sunday leaving a moral vacuum in a nation he dubbed “The Rainbow Nation” soon after apartheid was vanquished in 1994.

The diminutive, fiery and often cantankerous Anglican priest was a moral giant like no other. He took on the racist apartheid regime during Nelson Mandela’s incarceration with zeal, calling it immoral and evil. All attempts to silence him failed, and from his pulpit, Tutu spoke without fear and never minced his words. His truth reverberated beyond South Africa’s borders.

Desmond Tutu

He had an extraordinary power to communicate, and would never honey his words so as not to offend white Anglicans in his Diocese. He was a man with a wonderful concrete and never wavering moral and spiritual freedom which the post-Mandela South Africa seriously lacks.

Desmond Tutu was truly a key prophetic voice.

His resume will reflect that he opposed the invasion of Iraq, vehemently opposed the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and without winking an eye called President Ronal Reagan a racist for opposing sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Such an honest moral Giant.

The “Arch” as he was fondly referred to by South Africans of all races and creed had a mischievous sense of humor which he often used to disarm his apartheid detractors and to amuse his downtrodden fellow black South Africans. He is reported to have told Grace Machel Mandela that she is the only woman in history to have married two Presidents — Samora Machel the late President of Mozambique who died in a mysterious plane crash, and Nelson Mandela.

To white South Africans who wanted to keep apartheid alive, he would smilingly and wittingly tell them “why don’t you join the winning side before it’s too late.”

Messages of condolence are pouring in from across the globe since the passing of this gentle moral giant whose place in history is assured. Queen Elizabeth said, “I am 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.”

Former President Barack Obama who conferred the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tutu in 2009 said, “he was a mentor, friend, and moral compass.”

The world paid attention to Tutu’s contribution in ending apartheid as well as his struggles against apartheid and advocacy of peaceful resistance. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, following in the footsteps of another great South African Albert Luthuli, the first black African to get the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.

Archibishop Desmond Tutu dancing

Tutu’s greatness was in his humility and ability to mingle with the common folk. His humor, a quality to behold, and his eloquence was music to all those who listened to him.

In his own words;


“Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.”


“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”


“Hope is being able to see all that there is light despite all of the darkness.”


“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”


“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”


“Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of inestimable value.”


“I wish I could shut up, but I can’t and I won’t.”

South Africa is a better country because Desmond Tutu would neither shut up nor be silenced. He spoke his truth, and because of him, we are all better because his words touched us all, in one way or another.

Now, he belongs to the ages.