Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa’s spiritual father and a hero of the anti-apartheid campaign, was put to rest in the Cape Town cathedral where he once preached against the harsh white-minority dictatorship at daybreak on Sunday.
Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, died a week ago at the age of 90, after a life dedicated to battling injustice.
An Anglican Church statement said his ashes were “interred at St. George’s Cathedral in a private family service early today.”
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was laid to rest before the high altar, behind an etched memorial stone.
He urged South Africans to “take advantage of this opportunity to start over.”
Makgoba added, “Let us devote ourselves… to the extreme, revolutionary change that he espoused.”
“Let us live as simply as he did, as his pine coffin with rope handles exemplifies.”
Tutu’s family, led by his widow “Mama Leah,” numbered around 20 people.
Tutu, who was known for his modesty, had requested a basic, no-frills funeral with a low-cost casket, followed by an eco-friendly flameless cremation.
On Saturday, family, friends, clergy, and politicians gathered for a requiem mass, which was led by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Not only in South Africa… but around the world as well, our departed father was a crusader in the struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and peace,” Ramaphosa said.
“While our beloved (Nelson Mandela) was the spiritual father of our new nation, Archbishop Tutu was the moral compass and national consciousness,” he said, praising him as “our moral compass and national conscience.”
Apartheid solidified the white minority government’s control by enacting laws based on race and racial segregation, and police relentlessly hunted down opponents, killing or imprisoning them.
Tutu became the anti-apartheid struggle’s symbol in the 1970s when Mandela and other leaders were imprisoned for decades.
He relentlessly campaigned abroad, publicly chastising the Western world for failing to impose sanctions on the apartheid system.