Desmond Tutu rests in peace during a state funeral in South Africa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the main eulogy during the visitation service at St. George. Tutu’s body will be cremated in a private ceremony after Saturday’s prayers and will then be interred behind the pulpit at the church.
For decades, Tutu was one of the main voices pushing for the South African government to end apartheid, the country’s official apartheid policy. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, before the apartheid regime ended in the early 1990s and the long imprisoned Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president.
The revered anti-apartheid fighter will be remembered as one of the most important voices of the 20th century. His funeral, however, was set to ease: Before his death, Tutu loved asked for a simple service and the cheapest coffin available, according to two of his establishments.
Pastor Michael Nuttall, the retired Bishop of Natal who served as Tutu’s deputy, delivered the keynote address, calling Tutu a “giant among us morally and spiritually.”
His voice cracked at times, with Nuttal saying that being Tutu’s deputy between 1989 and 1996 “stripped a perhaps chord in the hearts and minds of many: an active black leader and his white deputy in the waning years of apartheid; and behold, heaven has not fallen. what can happen in our divided, wayward country.”
Tutu’s funeral is limited to just 100 people, in line with current South African government Covid-19 regulations. St George’s Church has urged South Africans to attend services in their local community instead of traveling to Cape Town.
Events have been planned across the country to give South Africans a chance to mourn in common for ‘the Arch’, as he was known, while still practicing social distancing.
The week-long memorial service begins Monday with the ringing of bells at St. George, a church known for its role in the resistance against the apartheid regime. Saint George holds such a special place in the late archbishop’s heart that he requested that his ashes be buried there in a special archive.
Tutu was born on 7 October 1931 in Klerksdorp, a town in the Transvaal province of South Africa, to a teacher and a domestic helper. Tutu had plans to become a doctor, thanks in part to an episode of tuberculosis in his youth that kept him in hospital for more than a year and even qualified for medical school, he said.
But his parents couldn’t afford the tuition, so he turned to teaching.
“The government has given scholarships to people who want to become teachers,” he told the Academy of Achievement. “I became a teacher and I don’t regret it.”
However, he was appalled by the state of schools in black South Africa, and even more appalled when the Bantu Education Act was passed in 1953, apart from apartheid in the nation’s education system. family. He resigned in protest. Not long after, the Bishop of Johannesburg agreed to accept him for the priesthood – Tutu believes it was because he was a black college-educated, a rarity in the 1950s – and accepted a new vocation. mine.
He ordained in 1960 and spent the 1960s and early 70s alternating between London and South Africa. He returned to his homeland in 1975, when he was appointed dean of the Church of St. Mary in Johannesburg. As the government grew increasingly oppressive — incarcerating Blacks, establishing confusing laws — Tutu became increasingly outspoken.
CNN’s Larry Madowo, Chandler Thornton and Niamh Kennedy contributed reporting.