Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey

A special memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey yesterday, to celebrate the life and work of Nelson Mandela.

Prince Harry represented Her Majesty The Queen. The service was also attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justin Welby, The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Prime Minister David Cameron MP, and the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe. Members of Mandela's family and actor Idris Elba were among the congregation. 

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, conducted the service. In his Bidding he said: "A service of thanksgiving for South Africa was held here in Westminster Abbey twenty years ago to celebrate the first democratic elections which brought black majority rule to South Africa, and the return of the country to membership of the Commonwealth. At that time, all who were here, and people throughout the world thanked God for the triumph of a spirit of reconciliation, and for peaceful transition.

"IIt is hard to imagine that any of this would have been possible without the grace and generosity shown by Nelson Mandela. Today we join together, representing the people of South Africa, of the United Kingdom, and of the Commonwealth, to give thanks to almighty God for a truly great man. ‘As we recall the life and work of Nelson Mandela, we shall give heartfelt thanks, and we shall pray for the people of South Africa, and for peace and justice in God’s world."

In an address to the congregation, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of Cape Town thanked "splendid" and "amazing" anti-apartheid campaigners for their efforts in changing the "moral climate" over apartheid.

"What would have happened had Mandela died in prison as was the intention and hope of the upholders of apartheid," he said. "I suppose most would have regarded him as no better than a terrorist - after all, persons in high positions in Britain and the US did dismiss him as such."

Singling out the anti-apartheid movement for praise, he thanked those who had picketed South Africa House, the South African High Commission in London during the apartheid years and those who had supported a "long haired" Hain in his battle to boycott South African sport in the 1970s.

"Thank you, you who regularly picketed South Africa House, thank you elegant ladies who boycotted South African goods, thank you to all those who followed the long haired Peter Hain to stop South African sports, thank you all those incredible young people in other parts of the world," he said.

During the service a recording of part of the 1994 Presidential Inauguration Speech by Nelson Mandela was played.

Tributes were paid by the Deputy President of South Africa and the Right Honourable Peter Hain MP.

His Excellency Obed Mlaba, High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa, read Joshua 4: 1-7, 19-end and the Prime Minister read St John 10: 10-16.

Prayers were led by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan; and the Most Reverend Dr John Sentamu, Lord Archbishop of York, Primate of England and Metropolitan and said by Karen Mackenzie; the Reverend Dr Jongikaya Zihle, Minister Shern Hall Methodist Church; Katherine Gouws; Vassi Naidoo; Phindiswa Kennedy; the Venerable Dr Jane Hedges, Canon-in-Residence, Westminster Abbey; and the Reverend Dr James Hawkey, Minor Canon and Precentor of Westminster.

The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by the Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell. The organ was played by Daniel Cook, Sub-Organist and before the service by Martin Ford, Assistant Organist, and Peter Holder, Organ Scholar. The Soweto Gospel Choir also sang at the service.

A copy of Shakespeare’s Complete Works circulated among prisoners on Robben Island the island prison near Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.
Jonty Driver, former President, National Union of South African Students, read the following extract from Julius Caesar which Mandela had signed on December 16, 1977.

‘Cowards die many times before their deaths:
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.’



Tags: Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Dr Justine Welby, Idris Elba, Kgalema Motlanthe, Nelson Mandela, Peter Hain, Prime Minister David Cameron MP, Prince Henry of Wales, Queen, Westminster Abbey

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