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31/12/2021

Like the world over, Nelson Mandela University is saddened by the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and wishes to recognise the seminal role he played in advancing South Africa’s transformation.

Today Mandela University pays tribute to the country’s “moral compass” - the man who stood firm for what was right, regardless of the circumstances.

“He was a giant among gamechangers, ever ready to stand up against injustice, regardless of the consequences,” said Dr Fraser-Moleketi, Chancellor of Mandela University, whose own human rights work saw her path cross with the 90-year-old Anglican Archbishop who died on 26 December 2021.

“We will miss the rare ability he had to chastise, and counsel.  He remained rooted to his faith. We will be forever be grateful for the legacy of hope that he has given us”.

“He coined the phrase ‘a Rainbow Nation’ and while we are not yet there, we have made massive strides towards achieving this.”  

In 2007, the University conferred the Nobel Laureate with an honorary doctorate (see full citation) for his outstanding contribution as a “truly great South African”, an occasion fondly remembered by many Mandela University staff and students as the jovial cleric happily posed for photographs with them.

The University’s Chair of Council, Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill echoed the praises of Dr Fraser-Moleketi, highlighting the significant role the Archbishop played during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings.

“It was our very own President Nelson Mandela who appointed the Archbishop to chair the TRC, to investigate the human rights violations of the previous 34 years.  As always, the Archbishop preached forgiveness and reconciliation, rather than revenge.  Who will ever forget his tears as he listened to accounts of injustice?  “Father Tutu” played the role of life coach in our lives as young students at the UBLS (the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in the 1970’s.”

She said the Archbishop gave voice to the voiceless and stood firm in his beliefs.

“He never wavered.  He practised tolerance and compassion at all times.”

Nelson Mandela University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sibongile Muthwa commented on the lasting legacy of Archbishop Tutu’s contribution.  “As a subject of intellectual and scholarly interest, his legacy will live on, as his work and archive are of great significance and impact for generations to come.”

Nelson Mandela University joins the nation and global community to mourn and celebrate the life and times of this great South African.  Our best wishes go to the family and friends of the Arch. May his soul rest in peace.