On New Year’s Day in Capetown, South Africa, family, friends and dignitaries gathered for Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s official state funeral – the conclusion of a weeklong series of events honoring the “moral compass” of his native land.
Tutu, who died Dec. 26 at the age of 90, garnered tributes from across the globe – fitting testimonies for one of the world’s leading voices against apartheid.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy and described Tutu as “our national conscience.”
For decades, Tutu remained one of the world’s most outspoken opponents demanding that the South African government end apartheid, the country’s official policy of racial segregation and white minority rule. Even before Nelson Mandela, who had been in prison for many years, became South Africa’s first Black president, and before apartheid officially ended in South Africa in the early 1990s, Tutu stood firmly on the battlefield.
As one might expect, prior to his death, Tutu requested a simple funeral service which included the cheapest coffin available. He desired little fanfare and only 100 people were allowed to attend his funeral. But millions more mourned his death and they continue to acknowledge his countless contributions to humanity.
Ramaphosa said of Tutu, he was “a man with a faith as deep as it was abiding” and “a crusader in the struggle for freedom, for justice, for equality and for peace, not just in South Africa, the country of his birth, but around the world as well.”
Tutu’s daughter Naomi also paid tribute to her father and thanked the public for their prayers.
“Thank you, daddy, for the many ways you showed us love, for the many times you challenged us, for the many times you comforted us,” she said.