Bells toll for Archbishop Desmond Tutu
SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa on Monday began a week of mourning for revered anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate passed away on Sunday aged 90, stripping the world of a towering moral figure and the last great protagonist of a heroic South African era.
“He was brave, he was forthright and we loved him just for that, because he was the voice of the voiceless,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters after visiting Tutu’s family in Cape Town.
The funeral will be held on New Year’s Day at St George’s Cathedral in his former Cape Town parish, Tutu’s foundation said, although ceremonies are likely to be muted because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Dozens of people braved rain to gather outside the cathedral leaving flowers and messages.
Mourners laid flowers outside what is known as the “People’s Cathedral” and a powerful symbol of democracy.
Black and white portraits of Tutu were attached to a fence and five condolence books were available for mourners who braved the wet weather.
“You fought the good fight, you inspired us to continue the fight for peace in the world,” read one message signed by Noel and Alfreda.
The widow of South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela Graca Machel, issued a statement to say that she mourned “the loss of a brother”.
Tutu “is the last of an extraordinarily outstanding generation of leaders that Africa birthed and gifted to the world”, she said.
“He stood resolute and fearless, leading demonstrations cloaked in his flowing clerical robe with his cross as his shield – the embodiment of humankind’s moral conscience,” Machel added.
Cape Town’s city hall and the Table Mountain which rises above the city will be illuminated every night this week in purple, the colour of Tutu’s clerical robes.
The bells of St George’s will ring for 10 minutes from noon each day until Friday. Tutu led numerous campaigns and marches against apartheid from St George’s steps.
The cathedral has asked those who hear the sound to pause in their daily work and think of Tutu.
Family and friends will gather on Thursday evening around Tutu’s widow, “Mama Leah”.
On Friday, his remains will be placed in the cathedral on the eve of the funeral, although attendance at his farewell on Saturday will be capped at 100, according to the archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba.
Around 400 people have already expressed their intention to attend the event.
Singing at the ceremony will also have to be moderated because of COVID-19 curbs, officials said. Tutu’s remains will be cremated and his ashes will stay in the cathedral.
Crackling with humour and warmth, Tutu will be most remembered for fearlessly speaking out against white minority rule, which garnered him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
He was appointed archbishop in 1986 and used his position to advocate tirelessly for international sanctions against apartheid. He coined the term “Rainbow Nation” to describe South Africa when Mandela became the country’s first black President in 1994. – GULF TIMES