DURBAN – While South African citizens argue over whether or not the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu was of importance to the liberation of people from under the apartheid regime, politically influential people and celebrities from across the globe have been sending their tributes via social media since Tutu’s death.
With former US president Barack Obama, talk show icon Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama sending heartfelt messages following Tutu’s death, the late Archbishop’s work towards upholding human rights cannot be denied.
“Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for me and so many others. A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere.
“He never lost his impish sense of humour and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly,” Obama said.
Oprah said: “One of the greatest, most peaceful souls has left the planet. A hope giver, peacemaker, justice warrior. Thank you, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.”
The Dalai Lama spoke of the friendship between him and Tutu and reflected on an event where the two men spent time together at Dharamsala, in Himachal Pradesh, India in 2015.
“With his passing away, we have lost a great man, who lived a truly meaningful life. He was devoted to the service of others, especially those who are least fortunate. I am convinced the best tribute we can pay and keep his spirit alive is to do as he did and constantly look to see how we too can be of help to others,” his holiness the Dalai Lama said.
Head of the Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth II said she remembered Tutu’s warmth and humour.
“Archbishop Tutu’s loss 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,” Queen Elizabeth said.
Founder of Microsoft Bill Gates said the world has lost a hero.
“Archbishop Desmond Tutu led with his values, empathy and optimism. He put everyone he met at ease with his incredible laugh and energy. He inspired me with his sense of purpose to build peace out of the struggle of oppression. I will miss him greatly,” Gates said.
Ava DuVernay, the creator of popular Netflix series involving the ill-treatment of African Americans like When they see us and Colin in black and white put a famous quote of Tutu as a tribute.
Secretary-general of the UN Antonio Guterres said: “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu – a towering global figure for peace and justice, voice of the voiceless and inspiration to people everywhere.
“We will continue to draw strength from his strength from his humanity, passion and resolve to fight for a better world for all.”
Pakistani human rights activist who was shot in the face by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai, also paid tribute with a quote from the late Archbishop.
“A kind soul has left us today. Let’s honour him and do our bit of good. Rest in peace Desmond Tutu,” Yousafzai said.