South Africa bids farewell to anti-apartheid hero and 'spiritual father' Tutu

2022-01-02 10:42:45
South Africa bids farewell to anti-apartheid hero and 'spiritual father' Tutu

South Africa on Saturday held a state funeral for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the nation’s great heroes in the struggle against apartheid.

Tutu died last Sunday, aged 90, triggering grief at home and abroad for a life spent fighting injustice.

Famous for his modesty, Tutu gave instructions for a simple ceremony, with a cheap coffin, followed by an eco-friendly cremation.

Family, friends, clergy and politicians gathered at Cape Town's St. George's Anglican Cathedral, which was illuminated in purple, the color of his clerical robes.

It was there where Tutu used the pulpit to rail against a brutal white-minority regime and it's there he will be buried.

Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.

The system was characterized by an authoritarian political culture based on white supremacy, which ensured that South Africa was dominated politically, socially, and economically by the nation's minority white population.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who accorded Tutu the official funeral usually reserved for presidents, described the ceremony as a "category-one funeral with religious characteristic."

"Our departed father was a crusader in the struggle for freedom, for justice, for equality and for peace, not just in South Africa, but around the world as well," said Ramaphosa.

"While our beloved (Nelson Mandela) was the father of our democracy, Archbishop Tutu was the spiritual father of our new nation", lauding him as "our moral compass and national conscience".

The funeral ended South Africa's week of mourning, with the diminutive rope-handled pinewood coffin, adorned by a small bunch of carnations, immediately removed from the church by vicars in cream robes.

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