His words sounded prophetic when in 2016, an alliance of religious leaders in South Africa joined other critics in urging Zuma to step down. In early 2018, Mr. Zuma was ousted after a power struggle with his deputy, Mr. Ramaphosa, who took over the presidency in February of the same year.
By this time, Archbishop Tutu had largely stopped giving interviews due to his failing health and rarely appeared in public. But a few months after Mr. Ramaphosa was sworn in as the new president with the promise of a “new dawn” for the nation, the Archbishop welcomed him to his home.
“Please know that we pray regularly for you and your colleagues so that this is not a false dawn,” warned Archbishop Tutu M. Ramaphosa.
By this time, support for the African National Congress had waned, even though it remained the largest political party in the country. In the 2016 election, while still under Zuma’s leadership, the party’s share of the vote fell to its lowest level since the end of apartheid. Mr Ramaphosa struggled to reverse this trend, but later won praise for his robust handling of the coronavirus crisis.
A global celebrity
For much of his life, Archbishop Tutu was a spellbinding preacher, his voice alternately loud and shrill. He often came down from the pulpit to kiss his parishioners. Every now and then he would engage in a leprechaun-like dance down the aisles, punctuating his post with the wit and laughter that became his trademark, inviting his audience to a jubilant bond of camaraderie. While assuring his parishioners of the love of God, he exhorted them to follow the path of non-violence in their struggle.
Politics was inherent in his religious teachings. “We had the country and they had the Bible,” he said in one of his parables. “Then they said, ‘Let’s pray,’ and we closed our eyes. When we reopened them, they had the land and we had the Bible. Maybe we got the best end of the deal.
His moral leadership, combined with his winning effervescence, made him a worldwide celebrity. He has been photographed at sparkling social events, appeared in documentaries, and chatted with talk show hosts. Even at the end of 2015, when his health appeared to be poor, he met Prince Harry of Great Britain, who presented him with an honor on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.