South Africa Lays Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Rest

A modest requiem mass for Archbishop Desmond Tutu took place at Cape Town’s Anglican cathedral. The anti-apartheid hero died aged 90 on 26 December.

South African anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu is being laid to rest on Saturday at a state funeral in Cape Town’s St. George’s Cathedral, where he will also be burried.

The funeral started with a hymn and a procession of clerics down the aisle burning incense and carrying candles inside the church where, for years, Tutu used the pulpit to fight against the country’s white minority regime.

South Africa has been marking a week of mourning following Tutu’s death on December 26. He was aged 90.

“When we were in the dark, he brought light,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the head of the worldwide Anglican church, said in a video message shown at the funeral mass.

“For me to praise him is like a mouse giving tribute to an elephant,” Welby said. “South Africa has given us extraordinary examples of towering leaders of the rainbow nation with President Nelson

Mandela and Archbishop Tutu…. Many Nobel winners’ lights have grown dimmer over time, but Archbishop Tutu’s has grown brighter.”

In his eulogy, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called Tutu “a crusader in the struggle for freedom and justice around the world.”

DW’s Thuso Kumalo said outside St. George’s, “The majority of South Africans were not allowed to come and gather here. Under normal circumstances you would have thousands of people gathering,” but this was not possible due to the pandemic.

“He left this nation in a better position from what it was because he left Blacks and whites living in peace ever more,” Kumalo said.

Tutu died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Center in Cape Town, his trust said. He had been hospitalized several times since 2015 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997.

Tutu requests ‘no lavish spending’

Several thousand people on Saturday, some of whom had travelled across the country, filed past the rope-handled casket made of pine, adorned by a bunch of carnations.

Renowned for his modesty, the archbishop requested “no lavish spending” on his funeral and he even “asked that the coffin be the cheapest available,” his foundation said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy at state funeral and handed South Africa’s multicoloured flag to Tutu’s widow, Leah, as a symbol of her husband’s description of the post-apartheid country as the “Rainbow Nation.”

Anti-apartheid hero, human rights advocate