Thursday, 26 December 2013

Mandela event was just as he would have wanted

On December 14, I attended the memorial event that was held at Nelson Mandela Park as an amateur filmmaker, with the intention of documenting the event from the perspective of one of the community choirs that were performing.

Going over the footage I got from the event, I am convinced that had Mandela been there to witness it, he would have been really pleased with the memorial.

He would have seen the event as a seamless whole that started in the park with township music by Leicester jazz ensemble, Afro City Swingers, who set the tempo for the event and gave it ambiance.

Afro City Swingers were followed by city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, who spoke about how Leicester is connected with Nelson Mandela and the struggle against apartheid that he embodied.

A number of young people from the St Philip's Centre read from Nelson Mandela's writings and spoke about what Mandela means to them, while my own MP, Jon Ashworth, who described Nelson Mandela's achievements as "extraordinary, urged people to keep Mandela's memory alive by supporting the causes that he had championed.

Jon Ashworth was followed by The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, who led an interfaith prayer for Nelson Mandela.
I am certain Mandela would have appreciated the heckling Bishop Stevens received from the secularists who argued, even as the Bishop was speaking, that the Church had hijacked the event.

Madiba would also have appreciated the grace and tact with which Bishop Stevens received the heckling.
Afterwards, Mandela would most certainly have told the bishop, the politicians and the secularists that his funeral would not have been his without the politics, without the demonstrations or trappings of faith, just as it would not have been his funeral without the arguments.

He would then have joined Red Leicester Choir and would have shown off a few of his dance moves.

He would also have joined in on Freedom Walk and in the singing and dancing that accompanied the walk.

He would have loved the drums that were waiting at the cathedral and would have joined Bobba Bennett in the dancing and then, because he does not have Bobba's energy, at the earliest possible opportunity he would have gravitated towards Paulo Carnoth, Carol Leeming and the drummers and tambourines so as not to make it obvious that he was about to pull a disappearing act, before finally disappearing into the cathedral (on the face of it to join the others who were gathered inside but in reality to catch his breath and to catch a rest).

He would also have loved the service that was conducted in the cathedral because the service was beautiful.

And, Leicester Amika Choir? Leicester Amika Choir would have made him think he was still in South Africa.

Afterwards, he would have said there wasn't anything about the memorial he would change because the memorial, as a whole, was beautiful. It was just as he would have wanted it.

*This article was featured in the Leicester Mercury letters page on 23 December 2013.

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