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'He laughed, he cried, he loved': Archbishop Thabo Makgoba on Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1995.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1995.
Image: Sunday Times.

Rev Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, says the legacy of the late beloved Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is moral strength, moral courage and clarity.

“He felt with the people. In public and alone, he cried because he felt people's pain. And he laughed — no, not just laughed, he cackled with delight when he shared their joy.”

Makgoba said in accordance with Tutu's instructions, the church will plan his funeral and other memorial services with the support of the government and the City of Cape Town, the details of which will be revealed in a briefing on Sunday.

“In the meantime, let us prayerfully remember him by the epitaph he once chose for himself: He laughed, He cried, He loved.”

Makgoba said while they mourned his passing, “as Christians and people of faith we must also celebrate the life of a deeply spiritual person whose Alpha and omega — his starting point and his ending point — was his relationship with our Creator. He took God, God's purpose and God's creation deadly seriously. Prayer, the Scriptures and his ministry to the people God entrusted to his care were at the heart of his life.

“He believed totally that each one of us is made in the image of God and ought to be treated as such by others. This belief was not reached through cerebral contemplation; it arose from his faith and was held with a deeply-felt passion. He wanted every human being on earth to experience the freedom, the peace and the joy that all of us could enjoy if we truly respected one another as people created in the image of God.”

He said that because of his belief in God, he feared no one.

“He named wrong wherever he saw it and by whomever it was committed. He challenged the systems that demeaned humanity. He could unleash a righteous anger on those — especially the powerful — who inflicted suffering upon those the Bible calls “the least of these, my brothers (and sisters).” And when the perpetrators of evil experienced a true change of heart, he followed the example of his Lord and was willing to forgive.”

Makgoba extended condolences to his wife, Nomalizo Leah, to his son, Trevor Tamsanqa, and to his daughters, Thandeka, Nontombi and Mpho, and all of their families.


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