Tutu: Mandela would have been 'appalled' at exclusion of Afrikaners from funeral

2013-12-18 08:19

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Nelson Mandela would have been appalled at South Africa’s Afrikaner community’s exclusion from his funeral, Desmond Tutu has charged, also questioning the leading role handed to the ruling ANC.

Tutu said Mandela had been given “the send-off he deserved” but apologised for the failure to match the icon’s renowned openness by not including the country’s main white Afrikaans church.

“Madiba would have been appalled, for he was quite determined to be inclusive,” said Tutu, referring to Mandela’s clan name, in a statement late Monday.

While the funeral itself was “superb“, Tutu also challenged the leading role of ruling African National Congress officials at the main events.

“I also believe it may have sent out a more inclusive message had the programme directors at the memorial and funeral – both national and state events – not both been senior office bearers of the ruling party,” he said.

Known for his no-holds barred frankness, Tutu has been openly critical of the South African government.

At the last minute, he reversed a decision not to attend Sunday’s burial after saying he was not going because he had not been invited.

Tutu singled out the failure by faith leaders to include a representative from the white Dutch Reformed Church – which supported the apartheid system – at Mandela’s official memorial and state funeral.

Only a few sentences in the Afrikaans language were used in the final benediction, he said.

“The most blatant exclusion was of the Afrikaner community,” said Tutu, who hosted Mandela on his first night after his release after 27 years in apartheid prison.

Mandela had reached out to the Afrikaans community, he said, whether lunching or having tea with widows of apartheid presidents or donning a Springbok rugby jersey.

An Afrikaans verse of the former apartheid national anthem was also retained in its multi-lingual successor adopted after the 1994 all-race elections.

“To the extent that I can do so meaningfully, I apologise to our sisters and brothers in the Afrikaner community,” Tutu said.

Mandela, he said, “went out of his way to ensure Afrikaners felt part of the new nation we were building.”

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