Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s legacy reverberates among young South Africans, many of whom were not born when the clergyman fought apartheid and demanded full rights for the country’s black majority.
Tutu, who died Sunday at the age of 90, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for these efforts.
Although they didn’t know much about him, some young South Africans told The Associated Press on Monday that they understood his role as one of the most prominent figures in helping their country become a democracy. .
Zinhle Gamede, 16, said she found out about Tutu’s death on social media and learned more about him over the past day.
âAt first I only knew that he was archbishop. I really didn’t know much else, âsaid Gamede.
She said Tutu’s death prompted her to learn more about South Africa’s history, especially the struggle against the white minority regime.
âI think the people who fought for our freedom are great people. We are in a better place because of them. Today, I live my life freely, unlike in the past when there was no freedom, âshe said.
After apartheid ended in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which documented the atrocities committed during apartheid and sought to promote national reconciliation. Tutu has also become one of the world’s foremost religious leaders advocating for LGBTQ rights.
“As a homosexual it is rare to hear church members speak openly about homosexuality issues, but I found out about it thanks to gay activists who sometimes use his quotes during campaigns,” he said. said Lesley Morake, 25. “This is how I knew about him, and this is what I will remember from him.
Tshepo Nkatlo, 32, said he focuses on the positive things he hears about Tutu, instead of some negative feelings he saw on social media.
âOne of the things I noticed on Facebook and Twitter is that some people were criticizing him for the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) because there are still many issues regarding the TRC,â said Nkatlo, referring to some who say Tutu should have been tougher on whites who perpetrated abuses under apartheid and should have ordered them to be prosecuted.
South Africa is organizing a week of mourning for Tutu. The bells rang at noon Monday from St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town to pay homage to him. The bells of the âPeople’s Cathedral,â where Tutu worked to unite South Africans of all races against apartheid, will ring for 10 minutes at noon for five days to mark Tutu’s life.
âWe ask all who hear the bells to take a break from their busy schedules in tributeâ to Tutu, said the current Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba. Anglican churches in South Africa will also ring their bells at noon this week, and the Angelus prayer will be recited.
Several services in South Africa were scheduled to honor Tutu’s life, as tributes arrived from around the world.
Tutu’s coffin will be on display at Cape Town Cathedral on Friday to allow the public to parade past the coffin, “which will reflect the simplicity with which he asked to be buried,” Makgoba said in a statement. On Friday evening, Tutu’s body will be “resting alone in the cathedral he loved.”
A requiem mass will be held on Saturday and, according to Tutu’s wishes, he will be cremated and his ashes placed in the cathedral mausoleum, church officials said on Monday.
In addition, an ecumenical and interfaith service will be held for Tutu on Thursday in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.
South Africans lay flowers at the cathedral, in front of Tutu’s house in Cape Town’s Milnerton region, and in front of his old home in Soweto.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Tutu’s home in Cape Town on Monday, where he paid tribute to Tutu’s widow, Leah.
âHe knew in his soul that good would triumph over evil, that righteousness would prevail over iniquity, and reconciliation would prevail over vengeance and recrimination. He knew that apartheid would end, that democracy would come, âRamaphosa said Sunday night in a nationally broadcast speech.
âHe knew our people would be free. To the same extent, he was convinced, until the end of his life, that poverty, hunger and misery could be overcome; that everyone can live together in peace, security and comfort, âsaid Ramaphosa who added that the flags of South Africa would fly at half mast this week.
âMay we follow in his footsteps,â Ramaphosa said. âMay we, too, be worthy heirs of the mantle of service, selflessness, courage and principled solidarity with the poor and marginalized.