Cathedral bells ring for South African anti-apartheid hero Toto

  • The nation begins a week of mourning, funeral scheduled for Saturday
  • Nobel laureate Tutu died on Sunday at the age of 90
  • South Africans revered Tutu as the nation’s moral conscience

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa remembered anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu with cathedral bells, flowers and warm words on Monday, a day after he died in a Cape Town nursing home at the age of 90.

Tutu, a Nobel laureate who advocated against the tyranny of the white minority, was revered by blacks and whites in South Africa alike as the moral conscience of the nation. Read more

His death prompted the flow greeting Around the world, including US President Joe Biden, his predecessors Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Pope Francis and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, South Africa’s first black president and friend of Tutu. Read more

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Graca Machel, Mandela’s widow, said, «Fighting for freedom from the trenches of South Africa required unspeakable courage. Yet he stood firm and brave, leading the demonstrations in his flowing religious robe…».

St. George’s Cathedral bells rang for 10 minutes at noon local time on Monday, and St. George’s Cathedral bells are scheduled to repeat every day until Friday. Tutu led many anti-apartheid campaigns and marches from the Steps of St. George.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makjuba, asked everyone who heard the bells to «stop their busy schedules for a moment in honor of Tutu».

Mourners laid flowers outside what is known as the People’s Cathedral, a powerful symbol of democracy. Black and white photos of Toto were attached to a fence and five books of condolence were available for mourners who braved the wet weather.

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“You fought the good fight, you inspired us to continue the fight for peace in the world,” read one letter signed by Noel and Alfreda.

Flags will be flown at half mast across the country and at South African diplomatic missions abroad until Tutu’s funeral, scheduled for Saturday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a national address late Sunday night.

love and laughter

Violet light floods Cape Town City Hall in honor of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Cape Town, South Africa, December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Chile Christians

Ramaphosa and others called Tutu’s residence in Cape Town to offer their condolences to Leah’s widow and other members of his family.

«His heart was big enough to love the whole world,» Toto’s daughter, Mpho Tutu van Voorth, said of her father in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, where she lives and works as an Anglican priest.

She said about Toto, who was famous for his infectious giggle.

Cape Town City Hall and the Table Mountain that rises above the city every night this week will be lit up in purple, the color of Tutu’s epigraphic robes.

Tutu won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent opposition to white minority rule. A decade later, he witnessed the end of that regime and chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to expose the atrocities committed under that regime. Read more

Later, he called on the black political elite to be just as bold as the Afrikaners, but his enduring spirit of reconciliation always sparkled and he never stopped fighting for the «Rainbow Nation». Read more

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A memorial service for Toto is scheduled to be held in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, on Wednesday. That same evening, Cape Town will host a special tribute at City Hall attended by members of Tutu’s family and foundation, and of various faiths and tribes.

On Friday, Toto will be in St. George’s State before Saturday’s funeral, which McGuba will lead.

Michael Widder, dean of St George’s Cathedral, told a news conference alongside McGuba on Monday that Tutu’s ashes would be buried in an ossuary behind the pulpit, in accordance with his wishes.

McGuba said the list of potential attendees ran for up to 500 names, but added that COVID-19 regulations limiting funerals to a maximum of 100 people must be respected.

«Only a fraction of those who want to be there can be accommodated,» he said, urging others to respect services in churches and cathedrals across the country.

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Additional reporting by Jodi Khan and Shafiq Tassim in Cape Town, Emma Romney in Johannesburg and Stephanie van den Berg in Amsterdam. Editing by Bernadette Bohm and Gareth Jones

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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