Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Tutu’s death has sparked sadness among South Africans, world leaders, over a life spent fighting injustice.

South Africa begins to say goodbye to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the last big hero of the struggle against apartheid, in a funeral stripped of pomp, but laden with tears and drenched in rain.

The funeral began with a hymn of praise and a procession of clergy burning incense down the aisle and carrying candles in the church where Tutu will also be buried on Saturday.

Tutu died last Sunday at the age of 90, which provoked sadness among South Africans and spent tributes of world leaders for a life to fight injustice.

Known for his modesty, Tutu gave instructions for a simple, no-frills ceremony, with a cheap coffin, donations for charity instead of flower tributes and an eco-friendly cremation.

The requiem mass started at 10:00 (08:00 GMT) at Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral where Tutu had used the pulpit for years to fight a brutal white minority regime.

This is where he will be buried.

Tutu passed away last Sunday at the age of 90, which provoked sadness among South Africans and spent tributes of world leaders for a life to fight injustice [Jaco Marais/Pool via Reuters]

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will deliver the eulogy, awarded Tutu a special category of funeral, usually for presidents and very important people.

He will also hand over South Africa’s multicolored flag to Tutu’s widow, Leah, in memory of her husband’s description of the post-apartheid country as the “rainbow nation”.

“When we were in the dark, he brought light,” said Canterbury Archbishop Justin Welby, head of the worldwide Anglican Church, in a video message shown during a requiem mass in honor of Tutu on Saturday. celebrated in St George’s Cathedral.

“For me to praise him is like a mouse paying homage to an elephant,” Welby said. “South Africa has given us extraordinary examples of tower leaders of the rainbow nation with President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu… many Nobel laureates’ lights have dimmed over time, but Archbishop Tutu’s has become brighter.”

‘Soul is welcome’

South Africa celebrated a week of mourning, culminating in two days of lying.

Several thousand people, some of whom traveled across the country, passed by a small rope-handled coffin made of pine, decorated merely by a bunch of carnations.

Under a gray sky and drizzle, mourners were ushered into the cathedral. Rain, according to historian Khaya Ndwandwe, “is a blessing” and shows that Tutu’s “soul is welcome” in heaven.

Mourners include close friends and family, clergy and a guest, including former Irish President Mary Robinson, who must read a prayer.

Other mourners were Elita, the widow of the last apartheid leader FW de Klerk, who died in November.

Strikingly absent from the funeral is one of Tutu’s best friends, the Dalai Lama. He failed to travel due to advanced age and COVID restrictions, his representative, Ngodup Dorjee, told AFP news agency outside the church.

Tutu’s longtime friend, retired Bishop Michael Nuttall, who was dean of the Anglican Church when Tutu was the Archbishop of Cape Town, will deliver the sermon.

The two forged a strong relationship, which for many illustrates how a white leader can work for a black leader. Nuttall went on to write a memoir entitled Tutu’s Number Two about their friendship.

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