CAPE TOWN, Dec 31 (Reuters) – Young activists hailed Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a role model for fighting global injustice as they waited in line on Friday to pay their last respects to the anti-apartheid hero whose body lay in state at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town.
Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner widely revered across racial and cultural divides in South Africa for his moral rectitude and principled fight against white-minority rule, died on Sunday aged 90.
“We as young activists believe the Arch stood for the same values that we want to aspire to in society,” Irfaan Mangera, a pro-Palestinian South African activist, told Reuters as he waited in the long queue, draped in the Palestinian keffiyeh.
Using Tutu’s nickname, Mangera added: “The Arch was one of the figures who continuously united us against oppressive systems globally, locally and we want to continue in that path as young South African activists who emulate the values of non-racialism and non-sexism.”
TEARS AND CELEBRATIONS
Among the many mourners was Mandla Mandela, a grandson of South Africa’s first Black president, Nelson Mandela, who had been a friend and ally of Tutu.
“People like Arch were able to lead protests and marches right here in the Cape and this is why, when we look back at his life, we are celebrating today and particularly with his support for oppressed nations across the globe,” he said.
Earlier, members of the clergy and church wardens lined the street as a guard of honour, awaiting the arrival of the simple pine coffin with rope handles, as the cathedral’s marching band filled the air with the sound of drums, flutes and trumpets.
A teary Thandeka Tutu, the eldest daughter, hugged her sisters after climbing out of the hearse. Six black-robed pall bearers then carried the closed coffin to an inner sanctuary of the cathedral amid a cloud of incense from an Anglican thurible.
Tutu’s body began lying in state on Thursday. A requiem mass funeral service will take place on Saturday and President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the main eulogy.
The cathedral’s dean, Father Michael Weeder, told news broadcaster eNCA that Tutu’s body would continue to lie in state through the night into Saturday after the public viewing ends at 5 p.m. (1500 GMT).
Since Sunday, church bells across South Africa have been rung every day in Tutu’s honour. Churches around the country continued to hold thanksgiving services for him on Friday.
Tutu, who requested the cheapest coffin and did not want any lavish funeral expense, will be cremated and his remains interred behind the cathedral pulpit, from which he often used to preach against racial injustice.
Photo – A man enters St George’s Cathedral to view the lying in repose of the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa, 31 December 2021. The anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was a key figure in the dismantling of apartheid died on 26 December 2021 at the age of 90. A full state funeral will be held on 01 January 2022. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA