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Desmond Tutu’s ashes interred in St George’s Cathedral, call to rename Cape Town airport after him

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba lays the ashes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu to rest at the high altar of St George's Cathedral, with members of the Tutu family and Dean Michael Weeder of the Cathedral in the background. Picture: Benny Gool/Supplied

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba lays the ashes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu to rest at the high altar of St George's Cathedral, with members of the Tutu family and Dean Michael Weeder of the Cathedral in the background. Picture: Benny Gool/Supplied

Published Jan 3, 2022

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Cape Town - Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has suggested that Cape Town's airport be renamed the Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu International Airport in honour of Archbishop Emeritus Tutu.

Archbishop Makgoba made the call in his sermon during a private family service on Sunday when Tutu’s remains were interred in front of the high altar of St George’s Cathedral.

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The 30-minute service was attended by about 20 members of Tutu’s family, led by his widow, Mama Leah Tutu.

The remains were interred under a memorial stone inscribed with the words: “Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Oct 1931 – Dec 2021, Archbishop Of Cape Town 1986 – 1996.”

In his sermon Makgoba said South Africans should use Tutu’s passing as an opportunity to turn a new page.

He said the nation should commit itself to the radical, revolutionary change Tutu advocated, based on the demands of the Bible.

“Let us live as simply as he lived, exemplified by his pine coffin with rope handles. Let those of us who have resources pull in our belts, so that others can eat enough to fill their stomachs.

“Let us re-order our society to end inequality and create equal opportunities for all,” Makgoba said

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Sharing his personal memories of Tutu, Makgoba recalled an incident from his early ministry when he was a priest at St Mary’s Cathedral in Joburg, the parish in which Tutu was ordained deacon and priest.

It was the same church in which Tutu was installed as dean, consecrated as Bishop of Lesotho and then enthroned as Bishop of Johannesburg.

Makgoba said in those days, Tutu was well known for his punctuality and regularly attended the 7am Eucharist at the church.

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“Hence it was with special trepidation that after oversleeping I arrived late for Mass, my pyjama trousers peeking out from under my cassock. The gentleness with which he both chided and forgave me is stuck firmly in my memory,” Makgoba said.

During on Sunday’s service, Makgoba was assisted by Dean of the Cathedral Michael Weeder and South African Council of Churches General Secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.

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