U.S. President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden on Sunday expressed their condolences over the death of South African anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu, saying his legacy will “echo throughout the ages.”
“On this morning after Christmas, we are heartbroken to learn of the passing of a true servant of God and of the people, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa,” the Bidens said in a statement on Sunday.
The Bidens said they were fortunate enough to spend some time with him over the past years, including their visit to him during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
“We felt his warmth and joy when we visited him during the 2010 World Cup that celebrated the diversity and beauty of his beloved nation,” they added. “And just a few months ago, we joined the world in celebrating his 90th birthday and reflecting on the power of his message of justice, equality, truth, and reconciliation as we confront racism and extremism in our time today.”
The Bidens added Mr Tutu used his personal background “to create a better, freer, and more equal world.”
“Born to a school teacher and a laundress and into poverty and entrenched racial segregation, Desmond Tutu followed his spiritual calling to create a better, freer, and more equal world,” their statement explained. “His legacy transcends borders and will echo throughout the ages. On behalf of the Biden family, we send our deepest condolences to his wife Leah and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Similarly, former U.S. President Barack Obama described Desmond Tutu as “a mentor, friend and moral compass.”
A contemporary of Nelson Mandela, Mr Tutu was one of the driving forces behind the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
“Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere,” said Mr Obama. “He never lost his impish sense of humour and willingness to find humanity in his adversaries, and Michelle and I will miss him dearly.”
Tutu, a Nobel Peace laureate award recipient and one of the main voices of the anti-apartheid movement, died on Sunday at the age of 90.