Desmond Tutu: Mourners to flock to memorials held across South Africa

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  • Desmond Tutu
    Desmond Tutu
    South African churchman, politician, archbishop, Nobel Prize winner (1931–2021)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking at Aid agency Tearfund’s Who Is My Neighbour conference (Carl Court/PA) (PA Wire)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking at Aid agency Tearfund’s Who Is My Neighbour conference (Carl Court/PA) (PA Wire)

Mourners will gather in South Africa to honour Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a day after his death aged 90.

Church bells at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town, where Tutu urged South Africans of all races to work together against apartheid, will toll for 10 minutes at noon on Monday for five days to mark his life.

“We ask all who hear the bells to pause their busy schedules for a moment in tribute to Archbishop Tutu,” said the current Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba.

A woman weeps outside the historical home of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Soweto (AP)
A woman weeps outside the historical home of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Soweto (AP)

The activist prelate worked against South Africa’s apartheid regime that oppressed the country’s Black majority.

Following the end of apartheid in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that documented atrocities and sought to promote national reconciliation.

Tutu also became one of the world’s most prominent religious leaders to champion LGBTQ rights.

Tutu’s body will lie in state at the cathedral in Cape Town on Friday before a requiem mass is held Saturday, Makgoba said.

A mourner brings flowers to St. Georges Cathedral, where a Wall of Remembrance for South African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been set up (AFP via Getty Images)
A mourner brings flowers to St. Georges Cathedral, where a Wall of Remembrance for South African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been set up (AFP via Getty Images)

South Africans are laying flowers at the cathedral, in front of Tutu’s home in Cape Town’s Milnerton area, and in front of his former home in Soweto.

“He knew in his soul that good would triumph over evil, that justice would prevail over iniquity, and that reconciliation would prevail over revenge and recrimination. He knew that apartheid would end, that democracy would come,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said of Tutu, in a nationally broadcast address Sunday night.

“He knew that our people would be free. By the same measure, he was convinced, even to the end of his life, that poverty, hunger and misery can be defeated; that all people can live together in peace, security and comfort,” said Ramaphosa who added that South Africa’s flags will be flown at half-staff this week.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, right, reacts with Archbishop Desmond Tutu (AP)
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, right, reacts with Archbishop Desmond Tutu (AP)

In a message of condolence, the Queen said the whole royal family were “deeply saddened” by the news.

The message said: “I am joined by the whole Royal Family in being deeply saddened by the news of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world.

“I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humour. Archbishop Tutu’s loss will be felt by the people of South Africa, and by so many people in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in such high affection and esteem.”

Nicknamed “The Arch”, Tutu was made the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986.

He was a driving force to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.

His work led to him receiving numerous doctorates and academic awards from all over the world.

He retired from public life in 2010 yet continued to do charity work through the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

According to the trust, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town. A cause of death has not been given.

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