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On the death of Nelson Mandela

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 8 December 2013

In the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields there is a statue of Hector Pieterson.

He was a 13-year-old killed in the Soweto uprising in 1976. He is being carried in the arms of a fellow student. The image echoes other signal moments in South African history, like the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. But today it’s not hard to see it as an image of Nelson Mandela. 

For years Nelson Mandela carried South Africa in his arms. Now, as he goes to his grave, South Africa is carrying him. The question in everyone’s mind, a question it’s hard to ask but names many fears, is, who will carry South Africa now that he is gone? So this statue is a tribute, a lament, and a prayer that goodness will continue to withstand evil in the beautiful but fragile land that Nelson Mandela loved, led, and has now left. 

Revd Dr Sam Wells