Former South African President and Nobel peace prize winner, Desmond Tutu is laid to rest in a state funeral. The deceased activist will be remembered for his work on human rights issues all over the world during his lifetime, but most notably for his pioneering efforts against apartheid.
Desmond Tutu Is Laid to Rest in South African State Funeral is a blog post by Desmond Tutu’s daughter Mpho. She talks about her father’s funeral, and how it was the perfect ending to his life.
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICAN AFRICAN AFRICAN AFRI Under a dense veil of overcast and rain, the burial started at 10 a.m., with black-clad mourners filing into the church and past Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s modest wooden coffin. Speakers approached the platform at St. George’s one by one, where the small pastor spent decades speaking against South Africa’s apartheid government’s racial injustice. By the time the choir finished singing “Behold Our Great High Priest,” the fog had burnt away, illuminating the city’s famed Table Mountain through stained-glass windows.
Mr. Tutu, the charismatic cleric who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his global campaign to end the country’s racist policies and is credited with coining the term “Rainbow Nation” to describe the optimism of South Africa’s transition to a multiracial democracy, would have loved the meteorological metaphor. Mr. Tutu, who died on Dec. 26 at the age of 90, eventually became a moral compass for a country attempting to navigate the post-apartheid era’s political horrors and socioeconomic disparities.
Hundreds of mourners had gathered for days in anticipation of Saturday’s ceremony at St. George’s, Southern Africa’s oldest Anglican church, which Mr. Tutu turned into a haven for white-minority opposition during the 1980s. Because to Covid-19 laws, the number of people allowed inside the cathedral was limited to 100, including Mr. Tutu’s wife, Leah, and four children. Mr. Tutu’s message of peaceful coexistence was as crucial to the country’s future as it was during the rocky transition to democracy, when it helped avert widespread slaughter, said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, a former union leader and anti-apartheid crusader. Mr. Ramaphosa remarked, “He never stopped battling, he never stopped speaking up, he never stopped caring.”
Mr. Tutu’s death marks the passage of the last of South Africa’s senior anti-apartheid figures, who also served as the chairman of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission after apartheid ended. It comes as Africa’s most developed country confronts new difficulties, including a deteriorating economy wracked by Covid-19 outbreaks, growing racial tensions, and infighting within the governing African National Congress, which was previously headed by Nelson Mandela.
According to the national statistics office, about two-thirds of Black South Africans, who make up roughly 80% of the country’s population, remain in poverty nearly 30 years after white minority rule ended.
Mr. Tutu has often condemned the African National Congress (ANC), which has been in office since 1994, for mismanagement and corruption, including attending countrywide rallies against former President Jacob Zuma in 2017. Mr. Zuma, who was succeeded by Mr. Ramaphosa in 2018, was imprisoned for refusing to attend a corruption investigation while in office.
Mr. Tutu is credited with coining the phrase “Rainbow Nation” to express South Africa’s optimism.
In his eulogy, Mr. Ramaphosa stated, “Problems and difficulties are everywhere.” “Many people are dissatisfied by poverty, inequality, racism, homophobia, gender-based violence, crime, and corruption.”
The archbishop’s death, according to Frank Chikane, a senior ANC member and priest, is an opportunity to reflect on South Africa’s post-apartheid politics’ shortcomings.
“As we commemorate his life, we must remember that where we are now is not where we expected to be when we fought for our freedom,” he remarked.
Small groups gathered at Grand Parade to watch the ceremony on a huge screen, echoing Mr. Tutu’s sentiments from 1990, when he stood beside Mr. Mandela for his friend’s first statement after 27 years in jail.
“He was a guy who brought us together,” Nolene Thomas, a 43-year-old jobless resident of the city’s outskirts, said. “I believe we need to take a moment to reflect and re-hear his message. As a result, it won’t fade.”
Mr. Tutu, popularly known as “the Arch” among South Africans, had desired a simple funeral service. A bunch of carnations from his family was the solitary flower in the cathedral. Visitors from all across South Africa have lined up to pay their respects to his unadorned wooden coffin, which has been on display at St. George’s since Thursday. “For fear of a crowd,” one local priest claimed, public access to the casket had to be increased.
After a week of national grief, the low-key funeral was held. Every day at noon, church bells have rang throughout the nation, and flags have flown at half-staff. In the first test match against India, the archbishop’s favorite national cricket team donned black armbands. In his honor, Table Mountain was illuminated in purple, the color of the archbishop’s robes.
The symbolism and simplicity of Mr. Tutu’s casket, according to South African analyst Lukhanyo Vangqa, was a “strong rebuke” to the ruling ANC and its “emerging culture of wealth and decadence.”
Mr. Ramaphosa won elections last year on a promise to tackle government corruption, but he is now facing a “planned campaign” from opposing ANC sections, which he terms “a choreographed campaign.”
Senior party leaders backing Mr. Zuma are publicly criticizing the president’s economic program, which is concentrated on courting foreign investment after five years of declining per capita GDP. Some people support populist economic measures like employing the central bank to finance infrastructural projects.
Unlike other developing nations, which have utilized the last decade to decrease inequities and increase their middle classes, South Africa came into the epidemic in a vulnerable position, which was compounded by lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Residents in Cape Town felt Mr. Tutu’s message was more important than ever on Sunday. Even as he fought cancer, he continued to push for social justice, broadening his activities to include HIV/AIDS, LGBT rights, and climate change, defying the church and governmental authorities once again.
“He was incredibly modest, and he did all he could for the nation… “It’s all about power for the boys today,” Celiwe Tsele, a 41-year-old bank worker who came to pay her respects, said.
Mr. Tutu’s ashes will be placed behind the pulpit at St. George’s after the ceremony. The outpouring of affection for her father “warmed the cockles of our hearts,” his daughter remarked.
During the state funeral, Leah Tutu, Mr. Tutu’s widow, is seen.
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“You share a bit of the love you had for him with us because we shared him with the world,” she said.
Joe Parkinson can be reached at [email protected]
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Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was laid to rest in a state funeral on Friday. The service was held at the Church of the Holy Family in Pretoria. Reference: desmond tutu.
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