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South Africa’s anti-apartheid veteran Tutu to be laid to rest in state funeral

President Cyril
Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the main eulogy for Tutu, whose death on
Sunday aged 90 triggered an outpouring of tributes from around the world.

Tutu, awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to
white minority rule, was known for his infectious laugh and easy-going manner
but they belied a steely resolve to fight for the downtrodden during the
darkest hours of apartheid and beyond into the 21st century.

Widely revered across
South Africa’s racial and cultural divides for his moral integrity, Tutu never
stopped fighting for his vision of a “Rainbow Nation”, in which all
races in post-apartheid South Africa could live in harmony.

“Without
forgiveness, there’s no future,” the charismatic cleric once said.

SIMPLE COFFIN

Hundreds of
well-wishers queued on Thursday and Friday to pay their last respects to Tutu
as he lay in state at the cathedral in a simple, closed pine coffin with rope
handles, in accordance with his wishes for a frugal funeral.

As Anglican
archbishop of Cape Town, Tutu turned St George’s into a refuge for
anti-apartheid activists during the turbulent 1980s and 1990s when security
forces brutally repressed the mass democratic movement.

His body will be
cremated in a private ceremony after Saturday’s requiem mass and will then be
interred behind the pulpit from where he once denounced bigotry and racial
tyranny.

Church bells have
tolled daily this week at St George’s in honour of the man often described as
South Africa’s “moral compass”. Many would refer to Tutu as
“Tata” or father.

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“Sometimes
strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu’s
voice will always be the voice of the voiceless,” is how long-time friend
and former president Nelson Mandela, who died in December 2013, described his
friend.

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