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Dalai Lama sends his 'condolences, sense of grief and sadness' to Tutu’s family and SA — representative

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
The late Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with longtime friend Dalai Lama, in 2008.
The late Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with longtime friend Dalai Lama, in 2008.
Image: Reuters

One of the closest and oldest spiritual friends of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, will not be attending his funeral due to the pandemic and his old age, his representative said on Saturday.

Representative of the Dalai Lama Ngodup Dorjee told the SABC: “His holiness the Dalai Lama was not able to come here because of the global pandemic and of his age. He wanted to come very much but could not because of the Covid-19 restrictions all over the world.”

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient enjoyed a close relationship with the Dalai Lama and authored a book together titled “The Book of Joy” in 2016. Their admiration for one another was often openly displayed when the two spiritual leaders met.

When SABC reporter Bongiwe Zwane asked Dorjee whether the Dalai Lama was sad that he could not attend, he said: “I think so because he wanted to join him on his 80th birthday but then he could not come because of the delay in the visa provision but now he could not join because the pandemic...

“He is very sad in his heart and he sends his condolences and his sense of grief, sadness, to his family and the people of SA.”

Reflecting on Tutu’s unhappiness that the Dalai Lama did not attend his 80th birthday milestone, Dorjee said, at that time when the Dalai Lama’s visa was technically delayed “he said he was very sad that he was not able to come to his 80th birthday”.

“He did say that he was very sad that he was not able to join his friend Desmond Tutu due to the visa application and it is very much evident that the Chinese would oppose if it was granted so the government of SA politely delayed the visa application at the time so he was not able to come.

“Indeed he was very sad because their relationship is very unique and so when Desmond Tutu visited in 2012 and 2015 and their warmth when they met and the spontaneity of their relationship is there for everyone to see. They were giggling and laughing and so it was a unique spiritual relationship. Today is a really sad day.”

Dorjee said Tutu, who supported the Tibetan people, “was one of the moral leaders in our time who was not afraid of speaking out about injustice anywhere, not only when SA was fighting for the liberation and democratic rights but he fought for the rights of Palestine and the Tibetans. He was also not afraid of speaking his mind to his own government when he feels that they were not doing right.”

The remains of the outspoken religious leader and political activist are expected to be interred at his dearly beloved St George’s Cathedral on Saturday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the eulogy at the special official category one funeral.


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