Mandela: Intertwined lives

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“Peace, freedom and democracy for all South Africans!” proclaimed Nelson Mandela on his release from prison in 1990, also declaring himself as  “a servant to all in South Africa”. Today we are a nation in mourning.

After being condemned and locked away for 27 years as a political prisoner, Mandela received the Nobel Prize for Peace (1993) and became the first president of the new, democratic South Africa (1994).


Mandela became the one who inspired diverse people to reconcile – those who struggled against apartheid, those like me who did nothing to end the injustices of oppression and even those who thought that inequality and racial separation were the best for all.

He showed us what it looks like when you grant others what you want for yourself.


He availed himself to be Tata (“Father”) to all of us.  He served us through his humility, his warmth, his wisdom and his openness, and when with children he used to look as if he has never lost the unbounded joy of an unscarred child.

Madiba made me feel safe and cared for even though I was one of those who, for most of the time, did nothing to end the injust apartheid system. He, and many others who struggled against apartheid, fostered a climate in which I could face and acknowledge my guilt of inaction and therefore of complicity in maintaining an oppressive system.

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I mourn the passing of this beloved man. My heart is with his family and loved ones. My heart is with all comrades who struggled with him against oppression.

And yet…

…I also lament the ongoing pain, suffering, corruption, neglect, greed and other injustices in my country. I cry out for my land! I ache to see a dream in mud! Should we already mourn the loss of Mandela’s legacy? Where is our servanthood?

“Who have we become?” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu recently asked passionately. “Who have we become?”



Who do we want to be in the here and now?

The life of Madiba should be remembered through our attitudes and our actions.


We are still here. It is our responsibility to shape the texture of every breath and every step.

I rejoice that I am not free from my memory of maintaining the oppression of others as I do not want to be free from it. I want to remember where I come from and how for many years I did not know how to feel fully human.  Now I shall continue to breathe and walk. My life is intertwined with all.

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Marwan Barghouti



December 6, 2013.


Today the people of South Africa and the world, stop in their tracks to recognize the sad departure from his illustrious earthly life, of Nelson Mandela. The South African Council of Churches extends a special pastoral embrace to the Mandela family at this time. We are very much saddened by the news of the death of our Nations first President: A man of vision, courage and zeal for the liberation of humankind. He has lived a selfless life so that we may all enjoy freedom and the fullness of life, just as our Lord had purposed. Today we are a respected nation because of his tireless fighting spirit to free us from oppression, exploitation and sexism, and for this we thank God.


In his words Mandela said, “Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden, but never extinguished”. On the night of his sad departure, that flame of his goodness was held up by the grace of God, that it may remain to inspire and influence present and future generations to strive always to live for the common good, after the manner of Jesus Christ who said I have come that you may have life to the fullest.


Thus Nelson Mandela will not have died, but would have transitioned to a perpetual beacon of light for the democratic order that he led as the first democratic president of the Republic of South Africa.


We call on the nation to pay respect our former president deserves even at his death, by praying for his soul, his family and the nation. We call on the churches and all people of faith, to focus their worship services and prayers this weekend not only to mourn Mandela but also to celebrate his achievements and thank God for his life and example. The Mandelas are members of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and therefore we appeal to all denomination to support the leadership of the Methodist Church in all ministrations.


Today a special meeting of Church leaders and representatives of various denomination will be held at Khotso House, the Headquarters  of the SACC.   


For further information and enquiries, please call the President of the SACC at 0828931378

Issued by the South African Council of Churches, Khotso House, Johannesburg