A senior Lancashire clergyman has been reflecting on the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela as his funeral was held yesterday.
The Archdeacon of Lancaster, The Venerable Michael Everitt, was in South Africa at a crucial point in its history – and once came face-to-face with the great man himself.
The Archdeacon’s reflections formed a key part of the Lancashire Diocese’s official memorial service for Mandela, held this week at Blackburn Cathedral.
The Archdeacon was based at Bloemfontein Cathedral for three years in the mid-90s, beginning in 1995, the year after Mandela came to power.
Giving the sermon during the special service, Archdeacon Michael said: “My wife and I saw Nelson Mandela once, when he came to Bloemfontein’s Civic Centre. We were the only white faces in the crowd and with his eye for the outsider he pointed to us and waved.
“We felt it was a personal encounter in which his presence, political skill and charisma shone through. He was as with all others living in South Africa, ‘My President’.”
The Archdeacon added: “Mandela was truly iconic, and in so many different aspects so much more shines through.
“There have been many hours and thousands of words shared about his Long Walk to freedom; his inspirational leadership; his service of humanity and his graciousness of life.
The Archdeacon concluded: “We hope and pray that his legacy can continue to be built upon.
“That the economic, educational, health, housing and social challenges that South Africa faces can be faced with the same courage, clarity and vigour with which Madiba led his people.”