S.Africa holds colourful, musical farewell to Desmond Tutu
Cape Town (AFP) – A musical memorial to South Africa's revered anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu had a rabbi and a monk dancing in their seats on Wednesday as Cape Town said farewell to its first black Anglican Archbishop.
The colourful interfaith service at City Hall to Tutu, who died at the weekend, was attended by family members and politicians, and peaked with a rendition of the 1980 chart-topper "Paradise Road".
The hit, which became an unofficial anthem for the struggle against apartheid, was emotionally performed by bare-footed South African singer Zolani Mahola.
Tutu died peacefully at a care centre on Sunday, just three months after his 90th birthday, prompting tributes to pour in from around the world.
Ahead of his funeral on Saturday numerous events are being held across South Africa to remember the apartheid foe and stalwart of the liberation struggle, who was also an outspoken critic of human rights abuses across the world.
He coined the phrase "Rainbow Nation" at the advent of South Africa's democracy, and that ideal was on full display at the memorial on Wednesday night.
Despite limited numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was plenty of pomp and ceremony at the event, with music from the South African Youth Choir and guitarist Jonathan Butler, among others.
Butler, whose music was popular during the apartheid struggle, had some in the audience, including a rabbi and a Buddhist monk, dancing in their seats.
'We will pick up your baton'
Prayers were offered from Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Traditional African and Muslim leaders.
Indigenous Khoisan people, dressed in skins and holding aloft an animal skull, also presented a tribute to Tutu.
Many of the members of the Tutu family, politicians and members of the public in attendance wore purple in honour of Tutu's famed purple robes.
Cape Town's famous Table Mountain and the City Hall building are also being lit up in purple at night all week.
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis told AFP the colour also had darker historical relevance because during the years of white-minority rule in the 1980s police often sprayed pro-democracy protesters with water cannon and purple dye to make them easier to identify and arrest.
Cheryl Carolus, a member of the ruling ANC party attending the event, called on South Africans to keep striving for a better democracy.
"Freedom is not a spectator sport, it needs to be hands-on.... Tata, we will pick up your baton," she said, using Tutu's nickname.
© 2021 AFP