North West – Scores of mourners from various churches came out to pay tribute to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu at an open field where his family home in Matlosana, Klerksdorp was once built.
Proceedings began with a wreath-laying ceremony conducted by North West Premier Bushy Maape alongside Matlosana Municipality mayor James Tsolela. Those in attendance also planted trees.
The field in the area is set to be developed into a Heritage Site in Tutu’s honor.
South African Council of Churches Chairperson and Diocese of the Klerksdorp Bishop Victor Phalana said the event was held to remember Tutu’s contribution to building a non-racial South Africa.
“He was born here. We understand it was a mixed-race (area) but because of forced removals, his family had to be moved away from here. At about the age of 12, they moved to Johannesburg,” said Phalana.
He added they were proud that Tutu had his roots in Klerksdorp.
“It is our intention, prayer, and our hope that this heritage site that has been given to the Anglican Diocese of Matlosana to be developed and honor him one way or another and that is why we came here together with government officials. We will engage everybody, including the bishop’s foundation,” Phalana said.
He said it was important that people know about the place.
“On behalf of the Catholic Church, we are very grateful for the role that he (Tutu) played,” Phalane said, adding the relationship between various religious leaders (whether it be Catholic or Christian) hasn’t always been easy in the past but despite this, they always came together and always found each other through mutual dialogue and mutual respect.
“Where there were differences, they managed to come together and agree,” he said.
Phalana spoke on the issue of sanctions during the apartheid era, saying it was a very divisive issue.
While some bishops disagreed fully with it, after listening to him (Tutu) and the SACC, the Catholic bishops came up with their own statements saying, “Yes it is important at times for economic pressure because it can bring change”.
“We are grateful for Tutu’s spirit of standing for a position and at times compromising where necessary. He was a man of interfaith. We were inspired by him during seminarians while studying for our priesthood. We always wanted to hear his voice because he believed in black theology, ” he said
He said Tutu stood for one value, which is called altruism, spoke about it, and developed it a few years ago.
He said he also stood for the value of ubuntu, which many are starting to forget and glorify individualism.
“We would like to thank the Tutu family for giving him to us so that he is for all and be the father founder of the nation and we want to assure the family that we will protect his legacy and we will not abandon them. We will continue to pray for them,” Phalana said.