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Should Mandela accept Queen of England’s honor?

by: Emmanuel Pheehe - 5 July 2013

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Photography by Kevin Tshabalala

Following the news of our beloved icon Nelson Mandela still being in a critical condition in hospital, one can not avoid the Mandela family’s burial spat being played out in court. The family was in court this week due to an exhumation saga after  Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela (chief of the Mvezo District) exhumed  the remains of Mandela’s three children from Qunu where Nelson Mandela grew up to Mvezo where he was born.

The eldest of Mandela’s children, Makaziwe Mandela and the Mandela family including Mandela’s wife Graça Machel took Mandla to  Mthatha High Court, challenging the  return of the remains of Mandela’s children back to Qunu where  Nelson Mandela grew up. The court case resulted in the Eastern Cape court ordering Mandla Mandela to return the remains back to  family graveside in Qunu. Mandela’s family were returned to Qunu yesterday.

On the other side of the world,  the Queen of England was reported to be interested in hosting a historic programme or memorial service at London’s Westminster Abbey for Nelson Mandela when he passes away. This would be the first time an African would be recognised in this way in the history of Britain.

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Live SA sat down with Professor Daryl Glaser, a Professor for Humanities and Political Studies at Wits University  to get an opinion of why the Queen has made that decision. Is the fact that Nelson Mandela was once labelled a terrorist by the UK and the rest of the world got anything to do with this honor? Should the Mandela  family consider and allow it?

”I am not in a position to advise the family, whom must do what suits them in their grieving when the time comes. I’m not a royalist, but in diplomatic terms it is probably not a good idea to snub this honour best owed by a country that is economically powerful, culturally influential and militarily significant. Mandela’s name is important in bolstering South Africa’s international stature and influence. From a British point of view it makes sense to honor a man who stands for democracy, statesmanship, reconciliation and unity, and who fought against an apartheid regime that  was the result, in part of Britain, abandoning South Africa to the tender mercies of the Afrikaners in 1910. I feel that is exactly why your Majesty thinks it would be an honor to host in a  point to remedy what has happened. It is a necessary gesture of contrition, both for that, and for Thatcher’s demonization of Mandela. The gesture should not stop others from reminding Britain of its own complicity in South Africa’s past,” says Professor Daryl Glaser.

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