Nelson Mandela was courageous to fight against oppression in apartheid South Africa and should not have been labelled “a terrorist”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said at a service of thanksgiving for his life on Sunday.
The Most Rev Justin Welby told a congregation at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London’s Trafalgar Square that the 95-year-old was the “rarest of leaders” as he thanked God for his life. The service was transmitted on a live link to Christ the King Church in Sophiatown in Johannesburg.
“Many of us would have kept our heads down, made what we could of life, looked after those close to us, and closed our eyes to what was happening,” the Archbishop said. “But Mandela had courage that showed itself in leadership. He stood out, resisted, and fought. He faced the insult of being labelled a terrorist for fighting for his own people, the absurdity of trial for treason against an utterly wicked regime.”
Prince Charles will represent the Queen at Mandela’s funeral in Qunu, South Africa, on 15 December. David Cameron will attend the memorial service in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Video: House of Commons pays tribute to Nelson Mandela
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