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In Pictures: Songs and tears at interfaith service for Tutu | Gallery News
An interfaith, musical memorial to South Africa’s revered anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu had a rabbi and a Buddhist monk dancing in their seats on Wednesday as Cape Town farewelled its first Black Anglican Archbishop.
The colourful service at City Hall for Tutu, who died on Sunday, was attended by his family members and politicians, many wearing purple in honour of the Nobel peace laureate’s trademark purple clerical shirt.
The event peaked when the 1980 chart-topper “Paradise Road”, 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 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 Wednesday night’s memorial.
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.
The Cape Town-born Grammy-nominated Butler, who flew in from Los Angeles and whose music was popular during the apartheid struggle, had some in the audience – including a rabbi and a Buddhist monk – dancing in their seats.
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.
Cheryl Carolus, an apartheid-struggle veteran 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.
“We give thanks for having 90 years of our father, almost against all odds,” said Carolus. “We know that he was not well over the last while, and that he, himself, was ready to go, and that he left us in peace”.
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