Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s official state funeral took place on the first day of 2022, after a weeklong celebration of events honoring his life. Tutu, whose accomplishments include winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his “role in ending South Africa’s apartheid regime of racial oppression and for championing the rights of LGBTQ people” died at the age of 90 on December 26, 2021.
The president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa recited the principal eulogy, hailing Tutu as “a man with a faith as deep as it was abiding…a crusader in the struggle for freedom, for justice, for equality and for peace, not just in South Africa, the country of his birth, but around the world as well…Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been our moral compass and national conscience…He saw our country as a ‘rainbow nation’, emerging from the shadow of apartheid, united in its diversity, with freedom and equal rights for all…He embraced all who had ever felt the cold wind of exclusion and they in turn embraced him…His was a life lived honestly and completely. He has left the world a better place. We remember him with a smile.”
After his speech, Ramaphosa gave a national flag to Normalizo Leah, also known as “Mama Leah,” Tutu’s widow, seated in her wheelchair in the front row, adorned in a purple scarf, reminiscent of the coloring from her late husband’s clerical robes.
Tutu’s final wishes were for a humble, non-ostentatious funeral. As such, Tutu was laid to rest in a pine coffin, the cheapest available. In his last move as an environmental advocate, Tutu requested aquamation, scientifically referred to as alkaline hydrolysis, which is “a water-based process considered an eco-friendly alternative to traditional cremation.” According to Bio-Response Solutions, this “process doesn’t use any fossil fuels and is 90% more energy efficient.”