WATCH | 'Don't forget about Tutu': Dignitaries, celebrities pay tribute to the Arch

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  • Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was applauded at an intimate event for his contribution to ending apartheid.
  • Some dignitaries included former president Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela, former South African first lady Graça Machel and Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille. 
  • The event comes in the run-up to Tutu's official funeral that will take place on Sunday.


Close friends of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu gathered in honour of him at an intimate event. 

The event was hosted by the the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and Archbishop Tutu Trust

Some dignitaries included former president Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela, former South African first lady Graça Machel and Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille. 

The former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, paid tribute to the Arch, saying the Elders' organisation would not be who it was today without his passion, commitment and keen moral compass. 

"Tutu took it very seriously and wanted us to work for peace, for human rights and do it with love. He enjoyed being bossy, and he could boss everyone. It was an incredible opportunity, and it was a particular privilege to know and work with him and serve with him as our first chair for the Elders," she said. 

Robinson added South Africans must celebrate his life. 

Mandla said he was reliving the departing moments of someone he dearly loved. 

"This is a difficult moment for us to raise our heads when our hearts are heavy, and we say a final goodbye to someone who has been so large in our life and the lives of millions around the world. We have lost one of our beloved elders, and we are left poorer with his departure," he added. 

WATCH | Long queues form outside St George's Cathedral as public gathers to pay tribute to Tutu

The event comes in the run-up to Tutu's official funeral that will take place on Sunday.

On Thursday, members of the public were allowed to pay their final respects to the Arch at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town. 

Several celebrities - including comedian and television presenter Siv Ngesi, rugby player Siya Kolisi and singer Jonathan Butler - also paid tribute to the Arch. 

Kolisi thanked him for his role during South Africa's darkest days in a brief video message. 

ALSO READ | Safety measures in place for Archbishop Desmond Tutu's funeral

An emotional De Lille, who was at his bedside the night he died, said Tutu meant a lot to many people. 

"All the social justice issues the Arch was there, we saw him join the climate change debate to fight to protect our planet for the next generation. He fought for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community and children. He wanted to see freedom." 

De Lille added it would be an indictment on everyone should they forget about Tutu. 

"We have to pick up the baton where the Arch left off. The one lesson I learnt from the Arch was talk is cheap; you have to walk the talk. You must not only talk about the injustice you must act," she said. 

Machel added profound messages had been delivered about the Arch. 

"Whenever I had something that troubled me, I would go to him for spiritual advice. We knew that this generation of great leaders would have to go," she said. 

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