'A giant has fallen': Tributes pour in for Tutu

Mourners look at a portrait of South African anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu outside St. George's cathedral in Cape Town on December 26, 2021, after the news of Tutu's passing. PHOTO/ AFP

What you need to know:

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "deeply saddened" by Tutu's death, calling him a "critical figure" in defeating apartheid and building a new South Africa. 
  • Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tutu's passing was "a big blow not only to the Republic of South Africa where he leaves behind huge footprints as an anti-apartheid hero but to the entire African continent where he is deeply respected and celebrated as a peacemaker".

South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu died Sunday aged 90, sparking tributes from around the world.

 Pope Francis 
The Vatican said in a statement Pope France 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."

 The Elders 
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, a 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". 

 Uhuru Kenyatta 
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. 

 Bobi Wine 
"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."

 Nelson Mandela Foundation 

The foundation said the loss of Tutu was "immeasurable".

"He was larger than life, and for so many in South Africa and around the world his life has been a blessing.

"He was an extraordinary human being. A thinker. A leader. A shepherd."

Tutu and Nelson Mandela first met in the 1950s but did not see each other again for decades, on the day Mandela was released from prison in 1990. Mandela stayed at Tutu's home that night.  

 Boris Johnson  
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "deeply saddened" by Tutu's death.

"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.

 Emmanuel Macron 
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.

 Thabo Makgoba 
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."

 Charles Michel 
European Council president Charles Michel offered sympathy to Tutu's family, President Cyril Ramaphosa and South African people in general.

"A man who gave his life to freedom with a deep commitment to human dignity. A giant who stood up against apartheid. You will be deeply missed," he wrote on Twitter.

 Jonas Gahr Store 
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."