Despite ”” or perhaps because of ”” their long, shared and often tortured history, there is a curious fondness between some Britons and some South Africans. Two events this week, far-flung and disparate, illustrated some of the ambiguities, too.
Indeed, it almost seemed as if South Africa’s Jekyll-and-Hyde soul was weaving itself anew into the relationship, offering the conflicting visages that make any definition of Africa’s 20-year-old “rainbow nation” so elusive, particularly in a land that has, in turn, been its invader, its overlord and its champion.
Here, in the soaring, august confines of Westminster Abbey, 2,000 congregants, including Prince Harry and Prime Minster David Cameron, assembled Tuesday for a memorial service to Nelson Mandela, who died in December. It fused liturgical solemnity and Anglican pomp with the light and sound of a Soweto gospel choir, feting the inclusive Mandela legacy in rousing renditions of both nations’ anthems, “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” and “God Save the Queen.”