South Africa begins a week of mourning for Desmond Tutu

THE CAP – The bells of St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town rang on Monday as South Africans began a week of mourning for Desmond M. Tu...


THE CAP – The bells of St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town rang on Monday as South Africans began a week of mourning for Desmond M. Tutu, Cape Town’s first black archbishop, who passed away sunday to 90.

The cleric was one of the most powerful voices in the anti-apartheid movement and has remained a voice of moral conscience in the decades following the collapse of South Africa’s system of institutionalized segregation. His death met a outpouring of tributes in South Africa and around the world.

Undeterred by the gray weather and a cold drizzle, the mourners placed flowers along the walls of the church. Several recalled personal encounters as they signed a remembrance book for the Archbishop, testifying to his accessibility to the South African public despite his global stature.

“He met my son who is blind and adopted him almost 20 years ago,” said Maeve King, in tears. She said it was “extraordinarily special” that the Archbishop was kind and treated her son “like he was like everyone else”. Besides what he did for this country, besides his integrity, besides his honor, in addition to the magnificent man that he was.

Peter McPherson, 67, was among a crowd of thousands in Namibia when he first met the Archbishop shortly after the country’s independence in 1990.

“As an Anglican he was our leader, but also a leader for everyone in South Africa,” he said.

Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, now secretary general of the South African Council of Churches, recalled the archbishop’s generosity and grace when he held the same post during apartheid.

“Archbishop Desmond was given to superlatives,” Mpumlwana said. “But he also gave to the superlative, he also liked to the superlative. He berated superlatively. Nothing was half-measure with Bishop Desmond.

The bells of Archbishop Tutu’s former church will ring for 10 minutes at noon every day this week, until his funeral on January 1, at the same cathedral. The service will be limited to 100 people due to the pandemic.

The archbishop’s remains will be cremated and his ashes interred in St. George’s Cathedral, church leaders said. As the first black Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996 and head of the Anglican Church in South Africa, Archbishop Tutu celebrated mass in the same cathedral.

Until his funeral, flags across the country will fly at half mast, the South African president said. Table Mountain, a Cape Town landmark, will be illuminated in purple, reminiscent of the purple robe Archbishop Tutu wore as head of the Anglican Church in South Africa.

In keeping with Archbishop Tutu’s wishes, the church will lead the planning of the events surrounding his funeral. Throughout the week, several churches across South Africa and in neighboring countries will hold memorial services, both Christian and interfaith, in his honor.

The Nobel Prize winner will rest in state at St. George’s Cathedral on Friday, where members of the public will be allowed to pay their respects.

Archbishop Tutu’s funeral will not be exempt from the Covid-19 regulations currently in force in South Africa. Public viewing will be regulated by social distancing rules, in addition to limited attendance at the funeral mass, where family members and clerics will have priority over the small guest list, executives said. church during a press briefing Monday.

Coronavirus cases have increased exponentially in the country after the detection of the Omicron variant in southern Africa in November. Fortunately, hospitalization and death rates from Covid-19 have not kept pace and cases appear to have peaked at the epicenter of the epidemic, Gauteng Province.

“Please don’t get on a bus to Cape Town,” said Thabo Makgoba, the current archbishop. “We will need to be pastoral and firm and encourage people to look from home. “

The man affectionately known to South Africans as “L’Arche” died of cancer in a healthcare facility in Cape Town. It was first diagnosis diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 and was hospitalized several times in the years that followed amid recurring fears the disease had spread.

In what would be his last Eucharist on Christmas Day, Bishop Tutu was fragile but filled with gratitude, said Bishop Makgoba, who performed the service.

“Tata is very fragile and has been in pain for many, many months,” said Dr Mamphela Ramphele, a former anti-apartheid activist who spoke on behalf of the family. She added that “the overwhelming feeling is the relief that he went to his Creator and his ancestors, and they love him too much to have wanted to continue to see him suffer.”

The Tutu family and close friends will hold a private service on Thursday evening. On Monday, at the Tutus’ home in Cape Town, dignitaries, clerics and friends arrived to pay homage to his widow, Nomalizo Leah, as well as their children and grandchildren.

Among them was South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who praised Archbishop Tutu for his courage in speaking out against the apartheid government, as well as the democratically elected African National Congress, whose inheritance as a liberation party has been tarnished by corruption, bad governance and internal strife.

“While worried about some of the mistakes of the ruling party, he spoke out, he was brave, he was outspoken. And we loved him just for that, ”Mr. Ramaphosa said.

Zanele Mji reported from Cape Town; Lynsey chutel from Utrecht, South Africa.

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Newsrust - US Top News: South Africa begins a week of mourning for Desmond Tutu
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