South Africa starts Desmond Tutu’s funeral in Cape Town

South Starts Desmond Tutu's Funeral Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu

South Africa has begun bidding farewell to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the last great hero of the struggle against apartheid, in a funeral devoid of pomp but freighted with tears and drenched in rain.

The funeral started with a hymn and a procession of clerics down the aisle burning incense and carrying candles in the church where Tutu will also be buried on Saturday.

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Tutu died last Sunday aged 90, triggering grief among South Africans and tributes from world leaders for a life spent fighting injustice.

Famous for his modesty, Tutu gave instructions for a simple, no-frills ceremony, with a cheap coffin, donations for charity instead of floral tributes and an eco-friendly cremation.

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The requiem mass started at 10am at Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral where, for years, Tutu used the pulpit to rail against a brutal white minority regime.

That is where he will be buried.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will deliver the eulogy, accorded Tutu a special category funeral, usually designated for presidents and very important people.

He will also hand South Africa’s multicoloured flag to Tutu’s widow, Leah, in a reminder of her husband’s description of the post-apartheid country as the “rainbow nation”.

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