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Friday, February 24, 2017
Nelson Mandela launches cathedral development
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¬†Crowds cheered Nelson Mandela as he arrived to open a £10m development at Southwark Cathedral in London on Saturday. The former president of South Africa has come to Britain to take part in a month-long cultural festival designed to celebrate South Africa since the end of apartheid. When Mr Mandela spotted a group of children in the crowd straining to catch a glimpse of him, he called them over and spent several minutes speaking with them. During the opening ceremony, Mr Mandela thanked those in the UK who had campaigned for the end of apartheid. He said: "Without that moral and material support we could not have achieved what we now celebrate." Built more than 1,000 years ago, Southwark is the oldest cathedral in London, and was for centuries the setting-off point for pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury. The redevelopment project has included restoration work, cleaning, new lighting and a newly landscaped churchyard giving a view of the River Thames. Archbishop Tutu was a curate at the cathedral when he studied theology at Kings. Three years ago he launched the restoration project. A room has been dedicated to him. During the ceremony Mr Mandela paid tribute to Archbishop Tutu as a "symbol of hope" in the "darkest days of apartheid". "When so many of the political leaders of the people were banished to exile, were forced to operate underground or were imprisoned, Desmond Tutu was foremost amongst those who stepped into that breach to give moral leadership in the fight against apartheid," said Mr Mandela. On Sunday afternoon Mr Mandela was guest of honour at a concert in Trafalgar Square celebrating Britain's role in helping to end apartheid. More than 30 performers from South Africa and Britain took part. Prime Minister Tony Blair made a surprise appearance on stage to welcome Mr Mandela, and introduce him to the 20,000 strong audience. During his visit Mr Mandela has a number of meetings planned with government, church and community groups.
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