‘The spiritual father of our new nation’: Archbishop Desmond Tutu laid to rest at funeral


Tributes have been paid at the state funeral in South Africa of Archbishop Desmond Tutu – described as a “giant” in the anti-apartheid struggle who “lit up the world”.

Tutu, who died aged 90 on 26 December, helped spearhead the fight against white minority rule and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in recognition of his non-violent opposition to the regime.

His funeral service, taking place in St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, follows days of mourning in which hundreds paid their respects by singing and laying flowers.

FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Desmond Tutu laughs as crowds gather to celebrate his birthday by unveiling an arch in his honour outside St George's Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo
Archbishop Desmond Tutu died aged 90
A funeral service gets under way in St. George...s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022  for Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu Emeritus. Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist for racial equality and LGBT rights died Sunday at the age of 90. (Nic Bothma/Pool Photo via AP).
The funeral service took place at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town Pic: AP

In a video message at ceremony, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, described how people globally had been inspired by Tutu.

Rev Welby said: “Archbishop Tutu lit up the world… that light has lit up countries globally that were struggling with fear, conflict, persecution, oppression, where the marginalised suffered.

“He never ceased to shed light. His light was the light of Christ, and that is why his light will go on shining.”

He described Tutu and the former South African president Nelson Mandela as “two giant figures that towered over the world”.

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At the cathedral, the archbishop’s daughter, Reverend Nontombi Naomi Tutu, said: “Thank you daddy for the many ways you showed us love, for the many times you challenged us, for the many times you comforted us.”

Tutu, who was South Africa’s first black archbishop, requested “no lavish spending” on his funeral and even “asked that the coffin be the cheapest available”, his foundation said.

Mpho Tutu, sits with the coffin of her father Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu during his funeral at the St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. Pic: AP
Mpho Tutu with the coffin of her father Archbishop Desmond Tutu Pic: AP
Chairman of the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) Archbishop Desmond Tutu (R) hands over the TRC report to South Africa's President Nelson Mandela at the State theater Building in Pretoria October 29. South Africa's Truth Commission has found that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is politically and morally accountable for gross human rights violations committed during its 30-year struggle against apartheid.
Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu were described as “giant figures that towered over the world”

Attendance at the event was limited due to coronavirus restrictions.

His body is expected to be aquamated after the funeral – a process which involves dissolving the remains in a solution that is considered to be a more environmentally friendly alternative to cremation.

Church bells have been rung every day in the archbishop’s honour since his death and tributes and prayers have poured in from around the world.

Tutu’s death came eight years after that of Mandela, who became president of the new “rainbow nation” in 1994 following his release from decades behind bars under the apartheid regime.

The archbishop chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission aimed at shedding light on the atrocities committed under white rule.

“Sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless,” Mandela once said of his friend.

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