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A solemn memorial service held in Seoul for late President Nelson Mandela

Ruling party chairman, widow of President Kim Dae-jung attend

a solemn memorial service held in Seoul

for late President Nelson Mandela

“During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against white domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”-- Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

A memorial service for the late President Nelson Mandel of South Africa was observed by Ambassador Hilton A. Dennis of South Africa at the Chungdong First Methodist Church in Seoul on Dec. 11, 2013 on the occasion of the passing on of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding father of the Democratic Republic of South Africa.

From left: Prof Kim, Sung-jae, Chair Professor of Kim Daejung Library of the Yonsei University, Chairman Hwang Woo-yeo of the ruling Saenuri Party and Ambassador and Mrs. Desmond Akawor of Nigeria

Chairman Hwang Woo-yeo of the ruling Saenuri Party, Madam Lee Hee-Ho (widow of the late President Kim Dae-jung) and many dignitaries from the government and various other segments of society attended the memorial service?as well as the foreign mission chiefs and other senior diplomats, who included, in alphabetic order, Ambassadors of Algeria, Angola, Belgium, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Iraq, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway Paraguay, Portugal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.

Madam Lee Hee-Ho (widow of the late President Kim Dae-jung (right, foreground) With Rep. Park Jie-Won (Democratic Party).
Following the National Anthem of South Africa, there was an invocation by Rev. Dr. Kisung Paul Song, senior pastor of the Chungdong First Methodist Church, which was followed by a candle ceremony, a prayer, scripture readings, sermon, prayer, the Lord’s prayer, tributes, sending forth, benediction, postlude and scripture readings.

Speaking to the guests in memory of the late President Mandela, Ambassador said in part: “The void was deep but the well wishes we received from around the world have surprised us by their scope and depth, lifting our spirits and making us realize that Mandela belongs not only to us, but also to the world. I am sure none will contradict me when I say that Mandela has made us so proud to be Africans.” (See excerpts from the speech at the end of this Article.

Chairman Hwang Woo-yeo of the ruling Saenuri Party speaks to the guests at the memorial service.

In a related activity, many ambassadors and Korean guests visited the Embassy of South Africa in Hannam-dong, Seoul, and expressed their deep sympathy and condolence to Ambassador Dennis and wrote their feelings in the Condolence Book. The visitors to the Embassy that day included Ambassador Sussumu Fujita of Brazil and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.

Excerpts from the tributes by Ambassador Dennis:

On the 5th of December 2013, Nelson Mandela peacefully passed on. May his soul rest in peace. The lofty words an outstanding South African poet offer an appropriate epitaph.

Kanti usekho usathetha--ilizwi lakhe linamava, linencasa, lino mkhitha--lele Mbumba ya Manyama (He’s still there speaking, his voice is wise, tasteful, dignified, and it is unifying). Nelson Mandela was 95 years old and in failing health in recent months. We had a premonition that the end was near but when it came it still was a great shock to us South Africans.

The void was deep but the well wishes we received from around the world have surprised us by their scope and depth, lifting our spirits and making us realize that Mandela belongs not only to us, but also to the world. I am sure none will contradict me when I say that Mandela has made us so proud to be Africans.

Ambassador Hilton A. Dennis of South Africa deliveries the tribute

Nelson Mandela was part of an exceptional generation of youthful leaders that included Waler Sisulu, Anton Lembede, Oliver Tambo and others who understood fully the colonial condition under which the people of South Africa lived for over three centuries.

They fully absorbed the anti-colonial zeitgeist of their age, which was blowing through Africa and applied that energy to their historic task of the liberation of South Africa. Theirs was an inclusive political vision guided by the principle that South Africa belonged to all who lived in it black and white. In contrast the ruling parochial philosophy posited that diverse people could never live in harmony, setting the ideological justification for Apartheid- minority rule and an oppressive security state. This contest of ideas was the essence of the liberation struggle in South Africa.

In time, Nelson Mandela articulated vision of the liberation movement at his trial in 1964:--“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” ? This idea would be translated over thirty years later, in 1996, as the core principle of our constitution, under the rubric of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa, and has become the hallmark of our self-identity as a people. Such devotion to core beliefs, overcoming the intimidations of jail, death, exile-over a long period of time moved a people to resist and overcome oppression and I think moved the world to recognize that loyalty and commitment to core beliefs still does matter.

The policy of forgiveness and racial reconciliation that defined "Mandela’s Presidential Tenure, were a natural and almost effortless extension of this core belief ? As the liberation Moment had a post-Apartheid Vision.

South Africans must remember that the ultimate goal of Mandela’s generation was the improvement of the quality of life of the people of South Africa. Much progress has been made in this regard, but inequalities are sadly still a feature of our society. I do hope that South Africans in Korea work hard and study smartly and eventually go home with their skills and contribute to the development of our society. This is the historic task of our age and the call for future generations of South Africans; it too will require a sense of mission, devotion and commitment to realize.

I would like to thank the Korean government, for President Park Geun-hye condolence’s and also Prime Minister Jung Hong-won who attended the memorial yesterday, in South Africa. Thank DG Africa for his presence. Members of Parliament

I would like to thank, on behalf of the Mandela family, all the Korean people that have sent flowers, letters and messages. I would like to thank members of the diplomatic corps too, for the many heads of state and government who attended the Memorial service in South Africa yesterday- and who have expressed their sympathies in signing the condolence book at the Embassy.

In conclusion, I want to thank all of you who have joined us in this commemorative service, on this cold winters day. k

Ambassador Hilton A. Dennis of South Africa (right) shakes hands with Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post at the South African Embassy in Seoul after Lee’s writing in the Condolence Book

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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