12 Things To Know About Late Desmond Tutu, Why He Wanted ‘Assisted Death’

Archbishop Desmond Tutu addresses the Academy of Achievement — after a performance by a local youth choir and dance troupe — at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, during the 2009 International Achievement Summit.

South African anti-apartheid icon, Desmond Tutu, died on Sunday aged 90.

His death was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.

Tutu was until his death, an Archbishop of the Anglican communion.

The anti-apartheid icon died at 90.

This is five years after the South African anti-apartheid icon celebrated his 85th birthday in October 2016, saying he would like to be allowed the option of dignified assisted death.

“I have prepared for my death and have made it clear that I do not wish to be kept alive at all costs.

“I hope I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life’s journey in the manner of my choice.

“For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort,” he wrote in Tutu wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post.

Before his death, one reason for his regular hospitalisation was an infection resulting from the prostate cancer treatment he has been receiving for over 24 years.

Medically-assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia is illegal in South Africa, but in recent years there have been growing calls for it to be legalised.

Here are a 12 things to know about the late Archbishop

1 – He is the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and bishop of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa).

2 – Tutu received many international accolades during his long and illustrious life, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

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3 – Initially trained as a teacher after leaving school, he began studying theology after having taught at a high school for three years and was ordained as a priest in 1960.

4 – He bagged a Master of Theology degree in 1966 in England.

5 – In 1975 he was appointed Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black person to hold that position. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho.

6- In 1978, he became the first black general secretary of the South African Council of Churches.

7 – After the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

8 – He retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 after serving in that capacity for 10 years, and was made emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town, an honorary title that is unusual in the Anglican church.

9 – In 1997, Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent successful treatment in the US. He was readmitted to the hospital at various times thereafter to address the cause of recurring infections.

10 – In September 2019, the world got its first proper look at Prince Harry and Meghan’s baby son when the pair relished their meeting with Tutu in Cape Town, a photograph of which they shared on their official Instagram as “Arch, meet Archie.”

11 – Tutu was married to Leah, whom he met at college, and shared four children with.

12 – Their only son, Trevor Tutu, is the eldest child. He was named after Tutu’s mentor and fellow apartheid activist Trevor Huddleston.

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Their eldest daughter is Theresa Thandi Tutu, who leads a largely private life. Naomi Tutu studied in the US where she also started a foundation to provide scholarships and other help to South African refugees.

Mpho Tutu, their youngest daughter, followed in her father’s footsteps by becoming a cleric and champion of human rights issues. In 2010, she co-wrote a book with her father called Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All the Difference.

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