South Africa: A Great Tree Has Fallen - President Ramaphosa

28 December 2021

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to try emulate and celebrate the life of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

The President was speaking to the media after a visit to Tutu's home following the Archbishop's passing on Sunday morning.

President Ramaphosa confirmed that Tutu would be buried in a "class one funeral with religious characteristics".

"A huge tree has fallen and it is a tree under which we as Africans and as the children of this great country found refuge, found shade, found protection and this tree has now fallen.

"But it is for us to now pick up the branches of this tree and march forward seeking always to try and hold up the branches of this tree so that the spirit that [he] represented can infuse us to do much more. We should use this opportunity to celebrate his life and to try and draw as much as we possibly can from the various good things that he sought to impart to us," he said.

President Ramaphosa said although his passing is a loss, Tutu's life was one well lived.

"We are enormously diminished by his passing but at the same time we are filled with a celebratory moment. Celebrating a life well lived and a life that is so gigantic which straddles many epochs in the life of our country where the Archbishop led... millions of our people in the struggle against Apartheid and when Apartheid was defeated, also led the process of reconciliation.

"He [also] became concerned about some of the errors of the governing party [and] he spoke out. He was brave and he was forthright and we loved him just for that because he was a voice of the voiceless. He was the one person who campaigned for justice, for people living with HIV, for the LGBTQI+ community and for the dejected and oppressed people not only in our country," the President said.

President Ramaphosa said the outpouring of condolences for the Tutu family from across the globe is a testament to the calibre of leader he was.

"His global status, the love... that he is being showered with from across countries in the world speaks volumes about what he stood for and what people saw in him as a great leader.

"So he really as an outstanding religious leader really exuded love, embraced our people as a nation right across the various racial groupings in our country, embraced them and participated in the building of the South African nation and if there ever was one person who promoted social cohesion, it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu," President Ramaphosa said.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Church and family have announced the following details ahead of and during Tutu's funeral:

The Archbishop will lie in state in St George's Cathedral on Friday.

The funeral will take place from 10am at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town on Saturday. His ashes will also be interred at the cathedral.

The cathedral bells will be rung for 10 minutes at midday every day until Friday.

On Wednesday, a memorial service will be held in Pretoria led by The Anglican Diocese of Pretoria and the SA Council of Churches.

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