At the funeral of Desmond Tutu, the tribute of South Africans to their last giant

He left without fuss. Nobel Peace Prize winner, hero of the fight against apartheid and tireless defender of injustice, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 90, wanted it so. No stadium, no farandole of speeches, few flowers. Just a handful of carnations on her little light pine coffin. As cheap as possible, he had demanded. Saturday 1is January, South Africa simply said goodbye to the last of its giants at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town.

Simply, and almost on the sly against the background of a pandemic. While some countries still apply severe restrictions on trade with South Africa after the discovery of the Omicron variant in the country in November 2021, the King of Lesotho, Letsie III, was the only sitting foreign leader present at the ceremony. Despite the rain of tributes that accompanied the announcement of the archbishop’s death, on December 26, 2021, the image offers a stark contrast to the funeral of the other South African giant, Nelson Mandela, which had attracted more of 500 dignitaries from all over the world in 2013.

“Many Nobel Prize winners see their aura diminish over time, his has shone more and more strongly”, However, noted the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, religious leader of the Anglican church to which Desmond Tutu belonged, in a video message broadcast during the ceremony attended by a hundred people, health regulations oblige.

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Present alongside former South African heads of state Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, the current president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, summed up the archbishop’s spirit through two images. That of determined activist Desmond Tutu defiant “A police cordon armed to the teeth” during a demonstration against the apartheid regime in Cape Town in 1989 and that of the sensitive peacemaker at the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, bursting into tears while listening to a veteran of the liberation struggle recount, in 1996, the tortures suffered at the hands of the apartheid security services which left him in a wheelchair.

As the South African President pointed out, the Nobel Peace Prize struggles did not end there. Even if the disease had made him more discreet in recent years – he was suffering from cancer – Desmond Tutu simultaneously defended the LGBTQ cause, worked against child marriage, supported the fight against HIV through a foundation, or called to fight climate change. “We cannot continue to feed our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow. Because there will be no tomorrow ”, he wrote in a column in 2014.

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At the funeral of Desmond Tutu, the tribute of South Africans to their last giant

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