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06 December 2013

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We just finished watching the funeral service of Nelson Mandela here in Johannesburg, and I came to your site to thank you for two things, particularly, today: your song 'Something Inside', which to me speaks of the dignity and generosity of Nelson Mandela who led not just South Africa to a transition, overcoming legalised racism, but led the world to reflect on its use of violence against 'the other' - the fellow human we demonise, in order to retain whatever feeling of superiority we have over another.
And second, your presence in London, at St Martin in the Fields, when we unveiled a memorial to all those of all races and backgrounds, who had suffered because of apartheid, in October 1994. That day we missed the presence of Bishop Trevor Huddleston, in whose memory I now work in Johannesburg among young people. I will never forget your words then, and they come back to me from time to time, as a voice of courage and caution; of integrity, of injury, but also of open-ness. Our choir that day was so taken with your words, followed by your gift of the song, that they also, still speak of that occasion (some 19 years on). I hope we may get the chance to be in touch as we come together again next year, to recall the pain still caused by exclusion, violence, and racism,in our own society as well as South Africa and to renew our commitment to work in the legacy of Mandela, inspired by music and poetry such as yours. warmly Tricia Sibbons

'Mandela - a judgment 'is a piece that provoked critical thought, by asking uncomfortable questions about the reality of fighting oppression. "Whether it is ethically correct to receive money from a regime which denies human rights and commits crimes against humanity in order to fight another regime"? Does the ends justify the means?

I'd suggest that it is impossible to know until an objective assessment of the outcomes can be revealed (and accurately reported). Until then all I can use is empathy. In Mandela's case, I have to have lend support to his decision, which in the balance, depended on the number of lives at risk in South Africa, and whether accepting such unethical funding could bring about accountability needed to stop the crimes committed against humanity.

I agree it is a complex question - and one I hope we will continue to reflect on. I hope that history might prove that Mandela achieved both, he brought down Apartheid sooner, backed by other governments and saved countless lives.

And Desmond Tutu. He represents the spirit of Ubuntu with infectious humour and joy. He too is fondly remembered for visiting our local primary school in Lambeth and amongst this 'meet and greet', he gave blessing to our unborn child.

Many thanks again, for sharing this, it remains as relevant as it was back then.

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