A funeral service is under way in South Africa for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning equality activist who was revered for his role in ending apartheid.
“When we were in the dark, he brought light,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the worldwide Anglican church, said in a video message shown at a Requiem Mass in St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Saturday.
“For me to praise him is like a mouse giving tribute to an elephant,” he said.
“South Africa has given us extraordinary examples of towering leaders of the rainbow nation with President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu... Many Nobel winners’ lights have grown dimmer over time, but Archbishop Tutu’s has grown brighter.”
Archbishop Tutu’s plain pine coffin, the cheapest available at his request to avoid any ostentatious displays, was the centre of the service, which was also featuring African choirs, prayers and incense.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was to give the eulogy at the service.
Following the funeral, Archbishop Tutu, who died last Sunday at the age of 90, will be cremated and his ashes interred in the cathedral’s columbarium.