Young South Africans learn of Tutu’s activism for equality



JOHANNESBURG – Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s legacy of equality activism continues to resonate among young South Africans, many of whom were not born when the clergyman fought apartheid.

South Africa is celebrating a week of mourning for Tutu, who died on Sunday at the age of 90. Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his passionate efforts to secure all the rights of the black majority in South Africa.

After the end of apartheid in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that documented the atrocities during apartheid and sought to promote national reconciliation. Tutu also became one of the world’s leading religious leaders in advocating for LGBTQ rights.

Some young South Africans told The Associated Press on Monday that although they did not know much about him, they knew he was one of the leading figures in helping the country become a democracy.

Zinhle Gamede, 16, said he learned of Tutu’s death on social media and learned more about him in the past 24 hours.

“I heard about his death yesterday on TV and on Facebook. People said he was one of the people who fought for our freedom. At first I just knew he was an archbishop, I really didn’t know much more,” Gamede said.

“I believe that the people who have fought for our freedom are great people. We are in a better place thanks to them. Today I am living my life freely, unlike in the old days when there was no freedom, “said Gamede, of apartheid South Africa.

He said Tutu’s death had inspired him to learn more about the history of South Africa, especially the struggle against the government of the white minority.

Lesley Morake, 25, said she knew Tutu thanks to the prelate’s open support for LGBTQ rights.

“As a gay person, it’s rare to hear people in the church talk openly about gay issues, but I found out about it through gay activists who sometimes use their dates during campaigns,” Morake said. “That’s how I found out about him, and that’s what I’ll remember about him.”

Tshepo Nkatlo, 32, said he is focusing on the positive things he hears about Tutu, rather than some negative feelings he saw on social media.

“One of the things I picked up on Facebook and Twitter was that some people criticized him for the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) because there are still a lot of problems related to the TRC,” Tshepo said. to some who say Tutu should have done it. been tougher with whites who perpetrated abuses under apartheid and should have ordered them prosecuted.

“But most of all I’ve heard positive things about him,” Nkatlo said.

The bells rang Monday at noon from St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town to honor Tutu. The bells of “People’s Cathedral” where Tutu worked to unite South Africans of all races against apartheid will ring for 10 minutes at noon for five days to mark Tutu’s life.

“We ask all those who hear the bells to pause for a moment in their busy hours in honor of Archbishop Tutu,” said the current Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba. Anglican churches in South Africa will also ring the bells at noon this week and the Angelus prayer will be recited.

Various services are being planned in South Africa to honor Tutu’s life as tributes came from all over the world.

Tutu’s body will be found in Cape Town Cathedral on Friday to allow the public to pass in front of his coffin “which will reflect the simplicity with which he asked to be buried,” Makgoba said in a statement. On Friday night Tutu’s body will be presented. “Jiau alone in the cathedral he loved,” the statement said.

A requiem mass will be held on Saturday and, according to Tutu’s wishes, he will be cremated and his ashes placed in the cathedral’s mausoleum, church officials said Monday.

In addition, an ecumenical and interfaith service for Tutu will be held on Thursday in the South African capital, Pretoria.

South Africans are laying flowers in the cathedral, in front of Tutu’s house, in the Milnerton area of ​​Cape Town, and in front of his old house in Soweto.

“He knew in his heart that good would triumph over evil, that justice would prevail over iniquity, and that reconciliation would prevail over vengeance and recrimination. I knew apartheid would end, democracy would come, “South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said of Tutu in a nationwide speech on Sunday night.

“I knew our people would be free. By the same token, he was convinced, even to the end of his life, that poverty, hunger, and misery could be overcome; that all people can live together in peace, security and comfort, ”said Ramaphosa, who added that South Africa’s flags will be flown at half-mast this week.

Ramaphosa urged all South Africans to “pay homage to the dead and celebrate life with the exuberance and purpose of our beloved archbishop. Let us follow in his footsteps. May we also be worthy heirs to the mantle of service, self-sacrifice, courage and solidarity of principles with the poor and the marginalized ”.

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