Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
3 minute read
1 Jan 2022
3:45 pm

PICS: Tutu gave SA ‘the greatest gift of all’ – hope and forgiveness

Cheryl Kahla

Ramaphosa said shedding a tear isn't an 'appropriate response' to the Arch's death. He would have appreciated a smile instead.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photo: AFP/ANP/Olaf Kraak

President Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy at Archbishop Tutu’s funeral, saying he gave us “the greatest gift of all – hope and forgiveness”.

The anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize-winning icon’s Category One state funeral service was held on New Year’s Day at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town.

Archbishop Tutu’s funeral

The proceedings took the form of a Requiem Mass, where the Archbishop’s daughter, Reverend Naomi Tutu, spoke on behalf of the family.

archbishop desmond tutu eulogy
Photo: Citizen.co.za/Cheryl Kahla

“I am here to convey our thanks. I want to first apologise as a family we have received many messages and we haven’t been able to respond. We have just been overwhelmed,” she said.

“We shared him with the world, and you shared part of the love you had for him with us. We are thankful […] to celebrate daddy’s life this week”, she said.


WATCH LIVE: Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s funeral service on New Year’s Day


President Cyril Ramphosa delivered the eulogy and said Tutu was “a crusader for freedom, justice and peace”.

He thanked the Archbishop for guiding South Africa’s leaders, for reminding them of their responsibilities, and giving all South Africans a reason to believe in the Rainbow Nation.

Tutu’s fight against oppression

Ramaphosa also reflected on the contributions Tutu made towards the fight for liberation, and his work during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Whether it was standing up against, racism, fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights, or for Palestinian interests, Tutu always spoke truthfully, and his death was felt by millions around the world.

“Climate activists, LGBTQI+ groups, solidarity movements and community organisations are just some of those who have paid homage to a man who gave his life to the cause of freedom”.

archbishop-desmond-tutu-funeral-service-new-years-day
General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Bishop Malusi Maphumlwana delivers the sermon during an interfaith service in honour of South African anti-Apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photo: AFP/Phil Magakoe

The Archbishop ‘never stopped fighting’

Ramaphosa said Tutu “never stopped fighting, he never stopped speaking out, and he never stopped caring”.

“We have heard moving accounts and many images of Archbishop Tutu’s life. These accounts and images are a chronicle of a life of activism, statesmanship, ministry and pastoralism.

“He made a difference in taking up their causes.”

Ramaphosa said the Archbishop was a “humble and brave human being who spoke for the oppressed, downtrodden and suffering of the world.”

archbishop desmond tutu eulogy
Archbishop Desmond Tutu receives the Martin Luther King Jr Award for Non-Violence for his commitment and role during the struggle against apartheid, on 19 January 1986, from the hands of widow Coretta Scott King. Photo: AFP Atlanta

He said some might be familiar with Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s name; many others would not, but still “he made a difference”.

Gift of hope and forgiveness

Ramaphosa said while Tutu lived a distinguished life throughout the fight against oppression in all its forms, he gave us “the greatest gift of all – hope and forgiveness”.

“Hope and forgiveness for a better tomorrow, hope for a country free of tyranny and hope for a society where all the people of South Africa irrespective of their religious affiliation, gender, race and origin could live side by side in harmony”.

archbishop desmond tutu hope forgivenes  eulogy
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu reacts to the announcement of the freedom of Nelson Mandela, on 10 February 1990 at his home in Soweto. Photo: AFP/Trevor Samson.

In conclusion, Ramaphosa said tears could, at times, be “an inappropriate response to death”. In Archbishop Tutu’s case, the correct response would instead be a smile.

“When a life has been lived completely honestly, completely successfully, or just completely, the correct response to death’s perfect punctuation mark, is a smile.”

“His was a life lived honestly and completely. He has left the world a better place. We remember him with a smile.

“Farewell father, servant of God”.