An interfaith musical memorial on Wednesday in honor of South Africa’s revered anti-apartheid icon, Desmond Tutu, had a rabbi and a dancing monk as Cape Town bid farewell to its first black Anglican archbishop.
The colorful town hall service in honor of Tutu, who passed away over the weekend, brought together family members and politicians, many of whom wore purple in honor of the award-winner’s famous purple dresses Nobel Peace Prize.
The event culminated when the top of the 1980 charts “Paradise Road”, which became an unofficial anthem for the fight against apartheid, was performed with emotion by the barefoot South African singer Zolani Mahola.
Tutu passed away peacefully in a health center on Sunday, just three months after his 90th birthday, garnering tributes from around the world.
Ahead of his funeral on Saturday, numerous events are being organized across South Africa to commemorate the apartheid enemy and the mainstay of the liberation struggle, who was also a vocal critic of human rights violations in worldwide.
He coined the phrase “Rainbow Nation” with the advent of democracy in South Africa, and that ideal was on full display at the memorial on Wednesday night.
Despite a limited number due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a lot of pomp and ceremony at the event, with music from the South African Youth Choir and guitarist Jonathan Butler, among others.
The Cape-born, Grammy-nominated butler, who arrived from Los Angeles and whose music was popular during the anti-apartheid struggle, had audiences dancing, including a rabbi and a Buddhist monk.
“We will take over”
Prayers were offered by Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, traditional African and Muslim leaders.
The Khoisan natives, dressed in skins and holding an animal skull in the air, also paid homage to the Tutus.
All week long, Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain and Town Hall building are illuminated purple at night, also in honor of Tutu dresses.
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis told AFP that the color had darker historical relevance, as during the years of white minority rule in the 1980s, police often sprayed protesters pro democracy of water cannons and purple dye to make them easier to identify and stop.
“Much of her ministry has been oppressed, harassed and harassed,” Hill-Lewis said at the memorial service.
“In recent years, when our fragile democracy has taken institutional blow after blow, it was there to be reprimanded.”
Cheryl Carolus, a veteran anti-apartheid member of the ruling ANC party, who attended the event, called on South Africans to continue fighting for a better democracy.
“Freedom is not a spectator sport, it has to be practical … Tata, we will take over,” she said, using the nickname Tutu.
“We give thanks for our father’s 90th birthday, almost against all odds,” Carolus said.
“We know that he was not doing well lately, and that he himself was ready to go, and that he left us in peace.”
On Thursday, the coffin bearing Tutu’s remains will be brought in procession to St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, where he once rallied to white minority rule.
There he will rest for two days for the public to say their final farewells before a private cremation.
His ashes will finally be buried inside the church, where bells have been ringing for 10 minutes at noon in his memory since Monday.
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