For former United States President Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black leader to reach the White House, Tutu was “a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass” who could “find humanity in his adversaries”.
“A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere,” said the fellow Nobel Peace laureate in a statement.
Anothet former US president Jimmy Carter said no words better exemplify his ministry than the three… “love, freedom and compassion”.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tutu’s passing was “a big blow” not only to South Africa but to the entire African continent.
“Archbishop Tutu inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle,” he said.
“A giant has fallen,” wrote Uganda opposition leader Bobi Wine on Twitter.
“We thank God for his life — a purposeful life, truly lived in the service of humanity. May his soul rest in peace. Condolences to all people world-over who were touched by his life and ministry.”
The news of the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu is very sad. A giant has fallen. We thank God for his life- a pu… https://t.co/RVGmLVVMDD
— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) 1640505833000
The Vatican said in a statement Pope Francis was saddened and offered “heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones”.
“Mindful of his service to the gospel through the promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa, his holiness commends his soul to the loving mercy of almighty God.”
Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama cherished “the friendship and the spiritual bond” between them. “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was entirely dedicated to serving his brothers and sisters for the greater common good. He was a true humanitarian and a committed advocate of human rights.”
Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, co-founded by Tutu, said “we are all devastated”. “He inspired me to be a ‘prisoner of hope’, in his inimitable phrase,” said Robinson, also the former president of Ireland.
The Elders said in a statement they had “lost a dear friend, whose infectious laugh and mischievous sense of humour” delighted and charmed them all.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday said she was “deeply saddened” by the death of Desmond Tutu, calling him a “man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world”.
“I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humour,” she said in a statement, adding that his death “will be felt by the people of South Africa, and by so many people in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in such high affection and esteem”.
Echoing the sentiments, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa — and will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humour,” Johnson tweeted.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Tutu had “dedicated his life to human rights and equality between peoples”. “His struggle for the end of apartheid and for reconciliation in South Africa will remain in our memory,” he tweeted in French.
Prix Nobel de la paix en 1984, Desmond Tutu consacra sa vie aux droits de l’Homme et à l’égalité des peuples. Son… https://t.co/qJ1xu0JU8Z
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) 1640520655000
Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said the life of Tutu, a “deeply spiritual person”, should be celebrated.
“He named wrong wherever he saw it and by whomever it was committed. He challenged the systems that demeaned humanity.”
Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said his legacy is moral strength, moral courage and clarity. “He felt with the people. In public and alone, he cried because he felt people’s pain. And he laughed — no, not just laughed, he cackled with delight — when he shared their joy.”
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store paid tribute to a man who “showed the power of reconciliation and forgiveness”.
Highlighting Tutu’s Nobel award, he added: “Never has a peace prize been so fitting.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the death of Archbishop Tutu “(always known as Arch) is news that we receive with profound sadness — but also with profound gratitude as we reflect upon his life”. “… Arch’s love transformed the lives of politicians and priests, township dwellers and world leaders. The world is different because of this man.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation said the loss of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu is immeasurable. “He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing. His contributions to struggles against injustice, locally and globally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies.”
Tutu first met another anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela in the 1950s but did not see each other again for decades, however, on the day the latter was released from prison in 1990, he stayed at the Archbishop’s home that night.
Dr Bernice King, youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, said she was saddened to learn of the death of “global sage, human rights leader and powerful pilgrim on earth”. “… A great, influential elder is now an eternal, witnessing ancestor. And we are better because he was here.”
For Mohammed Shtayyeh, prime minister of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, Tutu’s death was “a loss for justice, truth and peace in the world. “…He loved Palestine and Palestine loved him”.
Even Palestinian Islamist militant group HAMS said their “people lost a strong supporter of their march towards freedom and independence”. “Father Desmond Tutu spent his entire life struggling against racism and defending human rights”.
A heavy post-Christmas morning
Meanwhile, South Africans of all races stopped by Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral on Sunday to pay their respects to Archbishop Tutu.
In the cathedral yard, Father Michael Weeder, dean of the cathedral, paced up and down answering phone calls and speaking with workers shortly after Sunday morning mass.
“He died a holy death,” he told AFP near a makeshift shrine being prepared for the public to leave flowers.
Despite the loss, he said “it comes with some relief to the family because Father Desmond has been in a lot of pain over these past weeks”.
Among those paying respects was Miriam Mokwadi, a 67-year-old retired nurse, who said the Nobel laureate “was a hero to us, he fought for us”. “We are liberated due to him. If it was not for him, probably we would have been lost as a country. He was just good.”
Many passers-by remembered Tutu not just for his role in the fight against apartheid, but for how he has continued to hold the democratic government to account, constantly calling out corruption in the ruling African National Congress.
“I can’t think of anybody with that kind of moral compass” left in South Africa, said Aki Khan, a 64-year-old sound engineer and veteran of the apartheid struggle.
(With inputs from agencies)