Nelson Mandela: Archbishop of York says world is mourning the passing of a 'truly great human being.'

York Press: Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela

THE Archbishop of York said today that the world is mourning the passing of a ‘truly great human being.’

Dr John Sentamu said that Nelson Mandela, the former South African president and anti-apartheid freedom fighter who died last night, was a ‘symbol of hope, an icon for fairness, and a beacon for reconciliation.’

Speaking on BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought slot, he urged everyone to follow Nelson Mandela's example, saying: “His legacy will continue in our global village long after his body has been laid to rest.

“Mandela was arrested and detained not for crimes against others, but for standing up for others. He turned the other cheek when he could have delivered swift retribution.

“When he was eventually released from his incarceration in 1990, this great fighter for freedom used his liberty to work for peace and forgiveness throughout the nation and the wider world.

“Even when he was twice given the reins of power through a landslide electoral victory, Mandela refused to indulge in vengeance.

"He realised that although the past could never be forgotten, old injustices must be put to one side if a new more hopeful future was ever to be realised.”

York Central MP Hugh Bayley met Nelson Mandela on several occasions, having been a member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s national committee for 20 years, and once presented him with a poster he produced in the early 1970s calling for his release.

“He was a towering figure who created a stable government for his country when it was standing on the precipice of chaos, which could have turned into an ugly inter-racial, anti-colonial war,” he said.

“He showed unbelievable statesmanship in cutting a deal with South Africa’s white leader, F W De Klerk, who represented the government which had locked him up for 25 years, brokering a peaceful way forward for a multi-racial democracy, and both men richly deserved the Nobel Peace Prize they were awarded.

“All leaders from around the world and from all points of the political spectrum recognise the man for what he was and what he will continue to be: a truly outstanding champion for tolerance, reconciliation and harmony.”

City of York Council leader James Alexander tweeted that the authority would be lowering the flag above the Mansion House in York to half-mast as a mark of respect to Mandela.

Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh, who chairs the British South Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group, said: "Nelson Mandela was a man of enormous courage and generosity of spirit, and secured the peaceful transition from a period of apartheid and division to democracy, securing a vibrant future for South Africa.

"He devoted his entire life to his country and worked tirelessly to ensure apartheid ended in peaceful protest. He never lost touch with his roots, always displayed great humility and has left a lasting legacy to his countrymen. Throughout the troubled years of South Africa, he was a beacon of hope and light."



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