Hundreds of mourners lined up on Thursday to pay their condolences to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose coffin was laid in state at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, where he preached against racial injustice.
Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, known for his moral rectitude and resolute opposition to white minority rule, died on Sunday at the age of 90.
His death symbolises a huge loss for the whole of South Africa, where many called him “Tata” – Church bells have been ringing in his honour every day since Sunday, and tributes and prayers have poured in from all around the world.
Tutu will be laid to rest at the cathedral on Thursday and Friday before a requiem Mass funeral ceremony on Saturday, with President Cyril Ramaphosa set to deliver the primary eulogy.
According to a medical doctor, Randall Ortel, who is the first member of the public lane to enter the church said: ” I came here mainly to pay my respect to Tutu because he is definitely one of my role models and I want to follow all those things which he did in his life.”
Amanda Mbikwana, a human resources manager, said I came here with my mother and nephew, and we arrived here early in the morning at 5 am to pay my condolences to his wife and family, “We have known Tata work, he stood for us every time and we are here today to give him honour and celebrate his life.”
In 1984, Tutu won the Nobel Prize for recognition for his non-violent competitor to white minority rule.
According to his fellow anti-apartheid activist Chris Nissen, “He always stood by voiceless people and always became the voice of reason.”
Tutu always wanted the cheapest coffin and did not want any lavish funeral.
A funeral ceremony was held at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg, where Tutu was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1961 and later served as the city’s first Black Anglican Bishop in 1985.