The eyes of the world are turned on South Africa this morning. I have visited the country many times and it is an extraordinarily beautiful place with enormous potential, both in its natural resources and human capital.
I remember the difficult Apartheid years, a term we don’t hear so much now; an epic struggle, framed by segregation, driven by racial prejudice, and characterised by a crushing denial of natural equality and human rights.
Yet the victor in this great struggle after sacrificing 27 years of his life, journeying from prison to president, talked only of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Desmond Tutu and Bishop Tom Harris have spoken this morning of his quiet faith, the inner dialogue and spiritual path, that sustained and kept him through those long and difficult years,
A further sadness this morning is that the promising legacy Mandela left has not been built on. The leaders who have followed have struggled to assume his mantle and to make the progress that South Africa needs and deserves.
But today should be a fitting time to look back over the life of a remarkable man. A man of vision, a man of reconciliation, a modern day Barnabas, a son of encouragement. A man who ultimately united his nation through quiet dignity and natural authority.
The father of the rainbow nation has left us, today is a day to celebrate his life, long may his vision and memory endure.