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'His example challenges us all' - Archbishop Justin on the life of Nelson Mandela


Friday 6th December 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of Nelson Mandela’s ‘incredible gift of generosity and forgiveness' following the news last night that South Africa’s first black president has died aged 95.

Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight last night, the Archbishop said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate set "an example of forgiveness".

President Nelson Mandela led South Africa's transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison for his political activities.

Reflecting on Mandela’s incarceration and liberation, including 18 years on Robben Island, the Archbishop said: "One is lost for words thinking about what the cost of that must have been personally, and the inner struggle that there must have been, and where it ended with this great opening to accept all South Africans."

Through these actions, the Archbishop said, Mandela "set an example of forgiveness which challenges everyone around the world."

Archbishop Justin said Mandela helped bring about a culture of inclusivity in post-apartheid South Africa. 

"The pattern that South Africa has established - and I know very well the present head of the Anglican Church in South Africa, and you see it in him - is of enormous inclusion; a willingness to accept a prejudice towards welcome and hospitality, rather than shutting out and enmity," he said.

The Archbishop said that every South African he has met in recent years saw Mandela as "the beacon by which one set one’s course if you wanted to do the right thing.

"One of the great lights in the world has gone out this evening."

More on this story 

Watch the interview on iPlayer here: (starts at approx. 13 mins) 

Read the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement following the death of President Nelson Mandela here: 


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