Nelson Mandela: Five Tributes

The Archbishop of Canterbury

The death of President Nelson Mandela was announced in memorable words by President Zuma. South Africa has lost its greatest citizen and its father. Nelson Mandela, fighting to the end, is freed to be with his God in joy and reward for his great service and sacrifice. We pray for his family, for his friends and for his country. We are challenged to show the same degree of humanity, of courage and of generosity.

The Archbishop of Cape Town

Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you.

Go home, Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people.

We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper.

We now turn to you, Lord, in this hour of darkness, sadness, pain and death, in tears and mourning,

We wail, yet we believe that you will console us, that you will give us the strength to hold in our hearts and minds, and the courage to enact in our lives, the values Madiba fought and stood for.

We turn to you, Lord, and entrust Madiba’s soul to your eternal rest and loving arms as he rejoins the Madiba clan, his comrades and all the faithful departed.

We pray particularly for his closest and dearest, for Ma Graca Machel, for his children, grandchildren and all his relatives; may you surround them with your loving arms, your fatherly embrace and comfort.

At this dark time of mourning, at this perfect time when you have called him to rest and a perfect end, accept his soul and number him among the company of the redeemed in Heaven.

Console and comfort his family, South Africa and the world.

May his long walk to freedom be enjoyed and realised in our time by all of us.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory!


Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Nelson Mandela is mourned by South Africans, Africans and the international community today as the leader of our generation who stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries — a colossus of unimpeachable moral character and integrity, the world’s most admired and revered public figure.

Not since Kenyatta, Nkrumah, Nyerere and Senghor has Africa seen his like. Looking for comparisons beyond Africa, he will go down in history as South Africa’s George Washington, a person who within a single five-year presidency became the principal icon of both liberation and reconciliation, loved by those of all political persuasions as the founder of modern, democratic South Africa.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

The people of The Episcopal Church join the world in mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, prophet and witness to justice. His leadership spanned decades, before and during imprisonment on Robben Island, and continuing into the establishment of a nation that aspires to serve the freedom and dignity of all human beings. He helped the world to see a shining vision of the incarnate Reign of God. We pray that it was not simply a brief glimpse, but that his labor may be joined to that of others, grounding and growing a world of peace with justice for all. May God welcome this shepherd home in peace.

Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz, Anglican Church of Canada

Today the world mourns the passing of one of the greatest men of our times. Nelson Mandela’s life is the story of the prisoner who became the president of his beloved country. He is the icon of South African’s long road to freedom from apartheid. He is “the father of our nation,” writes Desmond Tutu, “the pride of our people.”

Mandela only ever looked back to remember those who had been so sorely oppressed, who suffered and died. He looked ahead and with a strength of spirit that was unwavering. He pressed for truth and reconciliation in his homeland. So impressive was his foresight that it inspired the same kind of work so necessary in numerous other countries as well.

Mandela stood tall among his people and he gave them hope for a better future. He spoke as one in whom wisdom had made his dwelling. He acted with a humility that had about it a sense of authority the world will never forget. All his labours were a wonderful reflection of a life given to the teaching in the Beatitudes, perhaps most especially the one that reads “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for thy will be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

Mandela loved much. Who can even forget his wonderful smile? For his family and his people he lived, and in their great love for him he died.

“We pray that nothing good in his life will be lost but be of benefit to the world; that all that was important to him will be respected by those who follow him; and that everything in which he was great will continue to mean much to us now that he is gone.” (Prayer of Thanksgiving, The Funeral Liturgy, p 602, Book of Alternative Services)

Mandela is destined to be remembered in the calendar of holy men and women through the ages. To give ourselves to the work of “transforming unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation among all people” (the Fourth Mark of Mission) will be to truly honour his life and his labours.



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