ANTI-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu was famous at his funeral yesterday – before he was given a water cremation.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner requested ‘no lavish spending’ and had the cheapest plain pine coffin for his tear-jerking farewell.
jibe with his ‘eco-warrior’ beliefs he was aquamated – a greener different to cremation using water and chemicals which cuts unhealthy carbon dioxide by up to 90 per cent.
Hundreds of mourners braved storms for the funeral service in Cape Town to give thanks for the life of South Africa’s first black archbishop.
The widely acclaimed last great hero in the country’s struggle against apartheid died last week aged 90 and he was lauded at the rain-soaked cathedral where for years he preached against racial injustice.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa remebered Tutu as “our moral compass and national conscience”.
His eulogy went on: “Our departed father was 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.”
He handed his country’s multicoloured flag to Tutu’s weeping widow, Leah – a reminder of her husband’s description of the post-apartheid country as the ‘Rainbow Nation’.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “Archbishop Tutu lit up the world… that light has lit up countries globally that were struggling with fear, conflict, persecution, oppression, where the marginalised suffered.
“When we were in the dark, he brought light. For me to praise him is like a mouse giving tribute to an elephant.”
During the ceremony, Tutu’s daughter Mpho said: “We thank you for loving our father… because we shared him with the world, you proportion part of the love you held for us, so we are thankful.”
Tutu, awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to white minority rule, was known for his infectious laugh and easy-going manner.
Before his Boxing Day death he insisted there should be ‘no ostentatiousness or lavish spending’ on the ceremony.
He wanted ‘the cheapest obtainable coffin’ with only ‘a bouquet of carnations from his family’.
Tutu lay in state at the cathedral in a simple, with hundreds of locals queuing to pay their respect to ‘Tata’ – or father.
After the private aquamation ceremony he was interred behind the pulpit from where he once denounced bigotry and racial tyranny.
Long-time friend and former president Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013, had described his friend Tutu as: “Sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour… Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless.”
Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless.
After apartheid was dismantled and South Africa ushered in its first free elections in 1994, purple-robed Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which exposed the horrors of the past in grim detail.
Weakened by progressive age and prostate cancer, Tutu – whose famous quotes included “without forgiveness, there’s no future” – had retired from public life in recent years.
He is survived by his wife Leah and four children, and several grand and great grandchildren.
Tutu’s daughter, Reverend Naomi Tutu, said the outpouring of love for her father had “warmed the cockles of our hearts”.
“Because we shared him with the world, you proportion part of the love you held for him with us,” she said.
Tutu’s tearful widow Nomalizo Leah sat in a wheelchair at the front of the congregation wearing a purple shawl – the colour of her late husband’s clerical robes.
Another memorial will be held at Westminster Abbey in London at a date to be confirmed by the Abbey and Buckingham Palace.
Turned to water
AQUAMATION – a greener different to cremation using water and chemicals – is said to cut the amount of unhealthy carbon dioxide by up to 90 per cent.
The environmentally friendly course of action involves heating the body in a combination of potassium hydroxide and water for up to 90 minutes, leaving only the bones.
These are then rinsed in the solution at 120C (248F), dried and pulverised into ashes.
It can take around eight to 12 years for the body of someone who had a traditional burial to decompose.
A water cremation takes around four hours and has been described as a ‘gentler’ option for the bereaved to consider.
The flame-free course of action, also known as water cremation, is allowed under UK law, unprotected to compliance with health, safety and environmental regulation.
There is no green cremation facility up and running in the UK but various firms hope to offer the option soon pending further guidance over how the waste water will be recycled.
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