Tutu: Exclusion of Afrikaners an affront to Madiba

Retired archbishop Desmond Tutu. (Gallo)

Retired archbishop Desmond Tutu. (Gallo)

Former president Nelson Mandela would have been appalled at the exclusion of the Afrikaner community exclusion from his funeral, retired archbishop 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 on Monday.

While the funeral itself was "superb", Tutu also challenged the leading role of ANC 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.

Not invited
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 Dutch Reformed Church 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.

"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". –AFP


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