·On the passing of Nelson Mandela,
Central and Southern Africa Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends’
issued the following statement:
We mourn the passing of our former President and leader, Nelson Mandela. Although
Madiba was of a great age, his death marks the end of an era. The people of
South Africa and the region are filled with love and sadness. We also express
our condolences to his family and friends, in their grief. The Religious
Society of Friends (Quakers) of Central and Southern Africa wish to express our
deep sadness at Madiba’s passing. At the same time, our deep admiration,
respect and gratitude for Mandela’s life and the legacy that he has left not
only South Africa but also Africa and the world.
“Freedom is in your hands” is a line from a well-known freedom song sung during
the dark days of apartheid. Millions of South Africans stood up to the violence
and brutality of the apartheid state and to the degradation of official racism.
Nelson Mandela was our leader, and it did seem that freedom was in his hands.
Mandela’s human and spiritual qualities lit the path to genuine liberation. He
was steadfast in his refusal to accept a lesser status for black people,
steadfast in his refusal to hate white people, steadfast in his determination
to bring about freedom and equality – liberating all of us, black and white. He
was a man of rare magnanimity – of ‘’great spirit’’, responding with
forgiveness and reconciliation to provocation and suffering.
Nelson Mandela led with strength, grace, humour, and humility. He eschewed the
riches that some take from high office. After stepping down as President, he
focused his energies on developing and supporting the most vulnerable, the
children of our nation.
This is a difficult time for South Africans. We will have to face our future
without the calm, guiding presence of Mandela. We may feel uncertain, anxious,
and even fearful. Mandela would not want this for us. He would want us to reach
out to each other, to stand together to meet the challenges of our future.
We recommit ourselves to the central challenge of our time – to continue
Mandela’s struggle for equality and freedom. The Religious Society of Friends
has long recognised that social justice is the basis for peace among people. We
view the massive inequalities in wealth, not only in South Africa but also
Africa and the world, as a dangerous threat to peace and stability. Genuine
freedom includes the freedom to develop our full potential as human beings.
Extreme poverty does not allow this and so the wealth gap must be tackled to
allow for genuine social development.
We honour Mandela’s vision of a country at peace with itself and recommit
ourselves to realising this in our life time.