South Africans gathered in front of the remains of Bishop Desmond Tutu at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Thursday, from where he attacked the long-running racist regime, for a fiery church planned for two days.
The light pine coffin – which he had heard was “possibly cheap” – was simply adorned with white carnation bouquets and carried by a choir of six priests to the choir, AFP reporters reported.
The current Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo McCabe, prayed as others poured incense around the coffin of the relentless human rights defender. The country affectionately calls him “Uncle Leah” and many members of his family followed him to church, including his widow, whom he married in 1955.
Tutu died quietly on Sunday in his 90s. After the planetary worship paid by the ruler of this world, through the heads of state from his friend the Dalai Lama to Pope Francis, this is the system of ordinary citizens.
All ages, all colors, they each stood for a few seconds in front of the body. Many pass by themselves, while others, like this woman wearing a purple hijab, bow their heads or join hands in a kiss.
Among them, John Coulson insisted on being one of the first to arrive: “I met him at the age of fifteen, and now I’m 70,” he said, comparing the pedestal to a rock star “like Elvis”.
Inspired by his openness and humor, she bet he had already stirred up heaven. “Saint-Bear is going to tell him” + Oh stay quiet there! + “, She teases.
Initially planned only for Thursday, “the fiery church was extended until Friday, for fear of congestion,” Reverend Gilmore told AFP in front of Fry Cathedral. Because many people want to greet the icon before his funeral on Saturday.
– Without luxury –
After a private cremation, he will be buried in Bishop Tutu’s Cathedral, where he served as archbishop for ten years until 1996.
Since Sunday, hundreds of people have gathered there to deliver news and bouquets. Every day at noon, for ten minutes, his bells ring as passers-by think of him.
Flags are flown at half-mast across the country, and Table Mountain glows purple all night long in honor of “The Arch,” overlooking the port city.
Desmond Tutu congratulated Reverend Frank Chickane, who fought against apartheid with the Archbishop at a ceremony in Johannesburg, “engaged in good wars and now he has finished his race.”
In the afternoon, friends and relatives of the deceased gathered at the headquarters of his foundation in Cape Town. In the sunny garden, some words were spoken and music was played. Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, human rights activist and widow of Nelson Mandel, Krago Machel, Mandela’s eldest grandson, and Mandela were in attendance.
Many rituals, mainly religion, are stopped during the week and continue until the funeral. On that day, with no lavish ceremony or luxury spending, the dean issued stern instructions. Other than the bouquet provided by the family, there were no other flowers. Assistance should be limited to one hundred people, Govt needs.
The religious ceremony will also be an official ceremony. But the military again had to limit their intervention to give the South African flag to his widow, at the will of the Archbishop.
The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize has retired from public life, weakened by cancer. After the election of his friend Nelson Mandela in 1994, he became the first post-apartheid president to invent the formula “Rainbow Nation”.
Desmond Tutu was the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which, thanks to the conflict between executioners and victims, believed it would make it possible to turn to racial hatred.