Former president Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel has paid an emotional tribute and farewell to the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, thanking him for his undying service during the years he was instrumental in fighting apartheid in the country.
Tutu died at the age of 90 in Cape Town on Sunday after a long illness with prostate cancer.
“I mourn the loss of a brother, my loyal friend and my spiritual leader. Arch is the last of an extraordinarily outstanding generation of leaders that Africa birthed and gifted to the world,” Machel said on Tuesday.
Machel said she could recall a time when the struggle against apartheid was epitomised by the faces and voices of three giants.
These were the exiled and revolutionary Oliver Tambo, the imprisoned yet omnipresent symbol of resistance that was Nelson Mandela, “and Desmond Tutu, the leader from inside South Africa whose messages were too penetrating to be ignored and whose voice too powerful to be silenced,” she said.
“From the pulpit, skilfully wielding his moral authority, the Arch passionately condemned apartheid and eloquently pressed for sanctions against the racist regime,” Machel said.
She added: “In a style unique unto himself, he masterfully used his position as a cleric to mobilise South Africans, Africans and the global community against the brutalities and immorality of the apartheid government.”
According to Machel, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established, Tutu was the natural choice to head the body since “it required someone steeped in faith, morality, impartiality, integrity and a boundless capacity for empathy to steer its momentous course.”
“The decision to have Tutu steward such a crucial building block of South Africa’s democracy was one master stroke” by Nelson Mandela who appointed him, Machel said.
Tutu will be laid to rest on Saturday in Cape Town.