The Elders, an independent group of global leaders, said on Sunday it was “devastated” by the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an anti-apartheid icon and one of the organization’s founding members.
Established in 2007 by South African liberation hero Nelson Mandela, the group aims to use its members’ influence “for peace, justice and human rights worldwide.”
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Tutu and former UN chief Kofi Annan were founding members and served as chairs from 2007 to 2013 and 2013 to 2018 respectively.
“We are all devastated at the loss of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Elders would not be who they are today without his passion, commitment and keen moral compass,” said current chair Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland.
“He inspired me to be a ‘prisoner of hope’, in his inimitable phrase,” she said, adding that Tutu “was respected around the world for his dedication to justice, equality and freedom.”
Tutu died on Sunday aged 90 after a long illness.
But this “never dimmed his determination to fight against injustice in all its forms,” The Elders said in a statement.
Tutu “played a vital role in shaping the organization, its values and its work,” said the group.
“A devout and compassionate Christian, his faith in, and espousal of, the fundamental goodness of people helped his country cope with the often difficult transition to a multi-racial democracy,” it added.
“The Elders have lost a dear friend, whose infectious laugh and mischievous sense of humor delighted and charmed them all. The world has lost an inspiration -- but one whose achievements will never be forgotten.”
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