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Dalai Lama, Tutu to deliver ‘digital eulogy’

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will come together "for a digital eulogy honouring Nelson Mandela.

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will come together "for a digital eulogy honouring Nelson Mandela.

Published Dec 13, 2013

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Johannesburg - The Dalai Lama, who cannot visit South Africa in person to honour Nelson Mandela, will make a virtual visit to the country on Friday.

He and his friend, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, will come together “for a digital eulogy honouring Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela”, said Sello Hatang, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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He said the foundation and the organisation One Billion Acts of Peace would host “a virtual conversation” between the two religious leaders. They would “share what Madiba’s life personally meant to them”.

The “Hangout on Air”, to be broadcast today at 2.30pm at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton, Johannesburg, will be open to the public and media.

“Let us live the legacy together. This is a place of memory,” Hatang said.

The Dalai Lama did not apply for a visa to come to South Africa to pay tribute to Mandela. His representative in South Africa, Migyur Dorjee, indicated he would have applied for a visa if he knew he would have got one.

Dorjee said the Dalai Lama wished to avoid the embarrassment he suffered in 2011 when he applied for a visa to visit South Africa to attend Tutu’s 80th birthday party.

Two days before the event he called off the visit when he had not yet received a visa.

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IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota took the government to court and eventually won a judgment last year in the Supreme Court of Appeal that the government had acted unlawfully by deliberately delaying granting him a visa until it was too late.

A Home Affairs official testified that the government had wished to avoid offending China.

When he was asked last week if the government would give the Dalai Lama a visa if he applied for one, Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Clayson Monyela dismissed the question as not serious “at a time like this”.

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Monyela confirmed that Britain’s Prince Charles, Lesotho’s King Letsie, Cuban President Raul Castro, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Malawian President Joyce Banda would be among about 10 world political leaders attending the state funeral in Qunu on Sunday.

US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and media entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey will also attend.

The government encouraged world leaders to rather attend the official memorial service at the FNB Stadium on Tuesday. About 90 current or former heads of state and government did attend, according to the government’s count.

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Castro, Kikwete, Banda and some other leaders will be attending both events.

Castro delivered a eulogy to Mandela on behalf of Cuba and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), according to diplomats, although Celac was not mentioned in the programme.

On Thursday President Jacob Zuma met Castro in Pretoria and said in a statement afterwards that Cuba had played a critical role in South Africa’s liberation struggle as well as in Africa generally “and holds a special place in the history of South Africa and Africa”.

Zuma said he and Castro had also discussed “the outstanding contributions” of Mandela and Castro’s brother Fidel Castro in liberating their respective countries.

Zuma thanked Castro for coming to South Africa and said: “It is very important to us that President Castro came in person. Paying tribute to Madiba would not have been complete without the participation of Cuba.”

The Star

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