CAPE TOWN (The Southern African Times) – South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa lauded the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu as “our moral compass and national conscience” as South Africa bade farewell at a state funeral Saturday to a hero of the struggle against apartheid.
“Our departed father was a crusader in the struggle for freedom, for justice, for equality and for peace, not just in South Africa, the country of his birth, but around the world,” Ramaphosa said, delivering the main eulogy at the service in St. George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, where for years Tutu preached against racial injustice.
The president then handed over the national flag to Tutu’s widow, Nomalizo Leah, known as “Mama Leah.” Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to white minority rule, died last Sunday aged 90.
His widow sat in a wheelchair in the front row of the congregation, draped in a purple scarf, the color of her husband’s clerical robes. Ramaphosa wore a matching necktie.
Cape Town, the city where Tutu lived for most of his later life, was unseasonably rainy early on Saturday as mourners gathered to bid farewell to the man fondly known as “The Arch.”
“Small in physical stature, he was a giant among us morally and spiritually,” said retired Bishop Michael Nuttall, who served as Tutu’s deputy for many years.
Life-size posters of Tutu, with his hands clasped, were placed outside the cathedral, where the number of congregants was restricted in line with COVID-19 measures.
Tutu’s body will be cremated and then his ashes interred behind the cathedral’s pulpit in a private ceremony.