Nobel winner Desmond Tutu dies at 90, led fight against South Africa’s apartheid

Tutu’s battle achieved global acclaim and culminated with Nelson Mandela’s 1994 election as South Africa’s first black president.

Updated: December 26, 2021 - 9:12am

Desmond Tutu, the Anglican archbishop who won the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting apartheid in South Africa, has died at age 90.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Tutu’s death on Sunday, as leaders around the world mourned the passing of an uncompromising voice for racial equality.

Exuberant, witty and yet plain spoken, Tutu used the pulpit as an Anglican bishop in Johannesburg and later archbishop of Cape Town to argue against white oppression against the majority blacks in his country. He was known lovingly by the nickname “the arch.”

His battle achieved global acclaim and culminated with the release from prison in 1990 and election in 1994 of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first black president.

“From the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights,” Ramaphosa said.

Tutu was receiving care in recent months at a nursing home and in latter years expanded his fight for equality to other causes, including LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

He was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1984 in the midst of a brutal apartheid crackdown and a decade later was named by Mandela to lead a commission into apartheid’s abuses credited with bringing healing to his country.