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South Africans take part in week of mourning for Dr Tutu

27 December 2021


Flowers have been left outside St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, since Sunday

Flowers have been left outside St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, since Sunday

CATHEDRAL bells will toll and Table Mountain will turn episcopal purple each day this week as South Africa mourns the loss of Dr Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, who died early on Boxing Day.

The funeral will take place on New Year’s Day in St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town. Until then, the cathedral’s bells will toll at noon each day, and from eight o’clock each evening, Table Mountain will be lit with purple lights in his honour.

The present Archbishop, Dr Thabo Makgoba, announced the funeral arrangements on Monday. There will be a requiem mass, followed by cremation. Dr Tutu’s ashes will later be interred in the cathedral mausoleum.

Before the funeral, the city of Cape Town, where the Tutus made their home after retirement, will hold an interfaith memorial service on Wednesday. Streets around the Cathedral have been closed off to allow people to leave flowers, and books of condolence have been set up all over town.

Dr Tutu’s body will lie in state in the cathedral on Friday, giving members of the public the opportunity to file past his coffin before the funeral the following mourning. Numbers at the funeral will be restricted to 100 because of Covid rules in force since October, though memorial services are permitted to accommodate up to 750.

The preacher at the service will be Bishop Michael Nuttall. Now aged 87, he served as “Number Two to Tutu” while Bishop of Natal until 2000.

On Monday afternoon, the prominent politician Dr Mamphela Ramphele, while on a visit to the Tutu family home, confirmed President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the eulogy at the funeral. She told a local TV network that Dr Tutu’s wishes for the funeral “will be followed to the letter”. He will have a simple coffin, and “there will be no military parades, only love — and that is enough.”

Dr Ramphele is also acting co-chair of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Intellectual Property Trust, and a family friend. On Sunday, she said that the Archbishop was a courageous prophet “who spoke truth to power during the most brutal time of apartheid. . .

“I believe that the greatest tribute we can pay to the Archbishop would be for us to mark today, this Boxing Day, as a day on which each one of us are going to start a journey of healing.”

Another co-chair, Dr Barney Pityana, a friend of many decades, said of Dr Tutu: “He never lost his common touch. He became a global figure with his feet firmly on the ground — in South Africa, in the townships where suffering was taking place, and in the Church that he was so fond of and so committed to.”

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