Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a hero of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, will be laid to rest Saturday at an official state funeral at St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, where he preached against racial injustice for years.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the main eulogy for Tutu, whose death on Sunday at age 90 drew a slew of tributes from around the world.
Tutu, awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent opposition to white minority rule, was known for his infectious laughter and calm demeanors, but belied his determination to fight for the oppressed during the darkest hours of the day. apartheid and beyond. in the XXI century.
Widely revered in South Africa’s racial and cultural divisions for his moral integrity, Tutu never stopped fighting for his vision of a “rainbow nation”, in which all the races of post-apartheid South Africa could live in harmony.
“Without forgiveness there is no future,” the charismatic cleric once said.
Hundreds of supporters lined up Thursday and Friday to pay their last respects to Tutu as he lay in state in the cathedral in a simple, closed pine coffin with rope handles, in keeping with his wishes for a frugal funeral.
As the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu turned St George’s into a haven for anti-apartheid activists during the turbulent 1980s and 1990s, when the security forces brutally suppressed the mass democratic movement.
His body will be cremated in a private ceremony after Saturday’s requiem mass and then buried behind the pulpit from where he once denounced racial intolerance and tyranny.
Church bells have rung every day this week at St George’s in honor of the man who is often described as South Africa’s “moral compass”. Many would refer to Tutu as “Tata” or father.
“Sometimes shrill, often tender, never scared and rarely without humor, Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless,” described Nelson Mandela, who died in December 2013, a longtime friend and former president.