Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto: Finland shares South Africa’s sorrow

In his blog post, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto commemorates the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Today, the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is laid to rest. The news of the passing of Tutu on 26 December 2021 have deeply touched millions of people around the world.

Desmond Tutu was one of the opinion leaders and activists who helped bring an end to apartheid, or racial segregation, in South Africa. After Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, Tutu worked closely with him, leading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

The campaign against apartheid was global. Outside the South African High Commission on London’s Trafalgar Square, demonstrations went on non-stop for four years, from 1986 to 1990. I can still remember the elated atmosphere, with people chanting “Free-e-e-e, Nelson Mandela!”

Desmond Tutu was a moral compass whose greatest hope was to achieve justice, equality and freedom. His unwavering commitment to these values led him to pursue them throughout his life, both nationally and globally. He – like Finland’s former President Martti Ahtisaari – was a long-serving member of the Elders, a group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights.

Tutu emphasised the role of women in decision-making and conflict resolution. While much work remains to be done here, we would be well advised to follow Tutu’s example.

Today, many in Finland join the South African people in their mourning and pay tribute to the life’s work of Desmond Tutu, a religious leader and a statesman.

Pekka Haavisto
Minister for Foreign Affairs