Message from President Nelson Mandela read by Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Nzo at the Thanksgiving for Archbishop Huddleston held in Westminster Abbey, London

29 July 1998

President Mandela has sent the following message in which he reiterates his words spoken at the Memorial Service for Archbishop Huddleston which was held in South Africa recently:

"All who encountered Father Huddleston in the closing years of our struggle for liberation will know of his longing to see a free South Africa before he died; and his impatience with mere speeches that would exasperate him to exclaim: "Words, words, words - I am sick of words!"

It is therefore with special humility that South Africa joins in this commemoration to convey the sense of loss we feel, as a nation, at Father Huddleston's death, and our abiding gratitude that the vagaries of history brought him to our land. We do so in the knowledge that we are speaking of one who touched the hearts of millions of South Africans.

Although he disparaged empty words, this man of action, who also lived a deeply contemplative life, inspired the world to action through his eloquent denunciation of our condition and the realities of forced removal and Bantu education.

In the same way he combined a gentle compassion for the victims of injustice with uncompromising hostility to the oppressor.

In Father Huddleston we see exemplified in the most concrete way the contribution that religion has made to our liberation." end quote

President Mandela has asked me to add that in turn Father Huddleston often spoke of how the struggle of ordinary people for their dignity gave concrete meaning to the principles of his Christianity.

It is therefore a cause for joy that his wish that dignity should be restored to South Africans in his life-time was granted him.

He witnessed how the international community embraced a democratic South Africa as a partner in the pursuit of international peace development.

May we who gather in thanksgiving for the life of Izuthwalandwe Trevor Huddleston, be as ready as he to join hands across nations and continents in order to address the needs of especially the poorest of the poor.

May we show the same impatience with empty words which do not translate into action.

May we honour his memory in the building of a better world. We shall be taking the ashes of Father Trevor Huddleston back to South Africa tonight, and in accordance with his wish, they will be interred in his old church in Sophiatown.

Issued by: Dept of Foreign Affairs

Source: South African Government Information Website