OSLO, Norway -- Black Anglican Bishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, a passionate but peaceful crusader against South Africa's system of racial segregation, today won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.
The 53-year-old bishop, who is viewed as South Africa's Martin Luther King Jr., had a news conference in New York and said the prize recognizes that 'those who oppose apartheid are like those who oppose communism.' He said he was leaving later today for Johannesburg to 'to go and celebrate with the people.'
King won the prize 20 years ago for his civil rights work.
In a statement announcing Tutu's award, the Nobel committee said, 'The committee has attached importance to Desmond Tutu's role as a unifying leading figure in the campaign to resolve the problems of apartheid in South Africa.
'Through the award of this year's peace prize, the committee wishes to direct attention to the non-violent struggle for liberation to which Desmond Tutu belongs, a struggle in which black and white South Africans unite to bring their country out of conflict and crisis,' it said.
The bishop, who regards himself as a church leader rather than a political leader, said when word of his win came by telephone from a diplomat, 'my wife and I were pinching each other.'
'I want to say 'thank you' to God and to say this award is not a personal award given to me. It acknowledges all those involved in the liberation of South Africa.'
Tutu said the prize played a part in recognizing so many 'so-called little people' who have been uprooted by South African authorities and 'the mothers who have been admonished by the authorities and can be seen sitting on soaking mattresses with their whimpering children all because they wanted to be with their husbands.'
Tutu said he would put the $190,000 prize money in a family trust and that much of it would be used for scholarships.
'The real heroes of this moment are the millions of downtrodden South Africans who have been silenced ... the thousands of who have been detained ... or removed to remote corners of the country and the children whose education is the cause of school unrest,' Lutheran Bishop Manas Buthelezi, said at the Johannesburg headquarters of the South African Council of Churches.
After a service, SACC staff and supporters of Tutu ran through the building ululating or whooping and dancing in a samba-style snake through their offices.
Black and white South Africans hailed the award as recognition of Tutu's struggle for human rights but feared it would have little effect on the country's laws of racial segregation.
Ntatho Motlana, an outspoken critic of apartheid, said he was delighted 'the world has recognized the brave work he has done and has recognized the role that the people he leads play in the struggle for human rights.'
Sylvia Gon, acting president for the liberal South African Institute of Race Relations said Tutu had been awarded the prize as a 'symbol of the black people of South Africa.
'I don't think it will have any impact politically. It will obviously give his views more weight but I can't see it changing anything here,' she said.
'This year's award should be seen as a renewed recognition of the courage and heorism shown by black South Africans in their use of peaceful methods in the struggle against apartheid,' the five-member awarding committee said.
'This recognition is also directed to all who throughout the world use such methods to stand in the vanguard of the campaign for racial equality as a human right,' the statement said.
The committee said the peace prize also should be regarded as a gesture of support for 'all inviduals and groups in South Africa who with their concern for human dignity, fraternity and democracy incite the admiration of the world.'
Tutu has frequently appealed to the South African whites' proclaimed deep Christian belief, saying 'Jesus Christ is involved in the liberation struggle' of the blacks for equality.
'Apartheid is as malicious today as it was years ago,' Tutu said in Oslo last March. He advocated increased international pressure for reforms on the white government of South Africa 'to avoid formidable bloodshed.'
Tutu is despised by the right-wing Afrikaner establishment but also criticized by black extremists for being too moderate.
His international reputation has helped him escape detention and banning so far and the Nobel prize should place him out of reach of South Africa's securityauthorities.
Although his sermons, speeches and writings have a political impact on South African affairs, the Anglican bishop regards himself not as a politician but as a church leader.
Observers pointed out that Tutu's campaign of peaceful opposition to apartheid was similar to the tradition of non-violent protest advocated by 1983 Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa, who was honored for his role as founder of the outlawed trade union Solidarity in Poland.
The Peace Prize is the third Nobel awarded this year, following the literature and medicine prizes. The physics and chemistry winners will be named on Wednesday and the Economics award on Thursday.