WATCH | ‘The only thing he taught us was love’ – Desmond Tutu’s Soweto neighbours

  • Desmond Tutu died at the age of 90 on Sunday.
  • Mpho Phalatse, members of the Anglican church, and people from all walks of life gathered outside Tutu’s home.
  • Tutu’s official memorial will be held on Thursday.

Church hymns echoed through the famous Vilakazi in Soweto, replacing the usual dance music, as mourners gathered outside the Tutu house to pay their respects. 

Joburg’s mayor, Mpho Phalatse, members of the Anglican church, and people from all walks of life gathered outside Desmond Tutu’s home to lay wreaths and light candles.

Tutu died on Sunday. 

READ | Tutu was ‘guiding light that brought Madiba and I together in our formal union’ – Graça Machel

“Daddy was a very humble man and soft-spoken. He would never let you down or discriminate against you. The only thing that he taught us was love, and that you have to love each other unconditionally. We are going to miss that from him, the motivation and teachings,” said Paula Majola, 72, who has lived across the street from the Tutu house for over 20 years. 

Another neighbour, Nkele Chakela, 69, remembered how every Christmas the archbishop would bring parcels to the elderly people of Soweto.

“We started knowing love through bab’Tutu. The memories I have of bab’Tutu is he never wanted to see people cry. He wanted to see people living equally in the rainbow nation. We lived with the likes of Mr Mandela and bab’Tutu, and people are different. We are saying his legacy must not end here. He was a father, a real father,” said Chakela. 

When the Tutus first moved to Soweto, Chakela was already living there. 

READ | Ramaphosa pays tribute to Desmond Tutu

“He was a humble person. When they (Tutu and his family) moved in, they would go into people’s houses to let them know who they were, and they wanted to know who their neighbours were.

“They showed love to everyone in the neighbourhood. They always had their hands open. He gave people everything, and he gave them love. Love is not about money. We were happy to have people like baba and mama Tutu,” she said. 

“Baba Tutu always used to say God is not in double story houses and big houses. He is here on the ground with us, don’t be afraid when you see me and think I am a big person. I am here on the ground with you,” she added. 

Peter Lenkoe, a retired dean and retired rector of the Holy Cross Anglican Church, said Tutu lived his teachings through and through. 

“We have lost a pastoral leader. The world over knows Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a profound intellectual giant – indeed, he was that. But, in addition, he taught us the basis of faith and the basis of theology is actually love, compassion and forgiveness, and he lived those ideas,” said. 

Tutu’s official memorial service will be held at St Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday.

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