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Nigerian High Commissioner, Prince Bola Ajibola
"It is the prayer of everyone that our children bury us- and not the other way round"
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The BBC's Robert Hall
"His short life has touched so many"
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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 05:42 GMT
'Little angel' Damilola laid to rest
Funeral service
Mourners wept as the coffin was carried into church
Children, celebrities and politicians have attended the funeral of Damilola Taylor, the 10-year-old boy murdered in London last year.

Former Wimbledon footballer John Fashanu was among the gathering at All Saints Church in Plumstead, in the south east of the city on Thursday afternoon.

I want to be the very best, like no-one ever has been

Damilola Taylor

About 300 mourners attended, including Damilola's parents Richard and Gloria Taylor, the Nigerian Arsenal player Kanu, the Nigerian High Commissioner Prince Bola Ajibola and Home Office Minister Paul Boateng.

Later the small white coffin was taken for burial at a cemetery in Plumstead, but Damilola's parents did not attend, as is the custom in Nigeria.

Damilola's grave
A simple cross marks Damilola's grave
A small wooden cross marked Damilola's grave, with a gold plaque which read simply: "In Loving Memory of Damilola Taylor.

"Died 27th November 2000 aged 10 years. RIP."

Earlier mourners wept as the small white coffin, topped with a white floral cross, was carried into the church by six pallbearers.

Police officers who were first at the scene of the killing were also there alongside people from Peckham where Damilola died.

Among the mourners were shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe and Simon Hughes of the Liberal Democrats.

Before the service, Fashanu said it was important that Nigerians paid their respects to the schoolboy.

'Lost son'

He said: "I think everyone is devastated.

"There's a lot of Nigerians here and all of them feel like they have lost a son."

Fashanu, who was a friend of the Taylor family and had met Damilola's father in Nigeria, said he could not believe that two months after the boy's death someone was still hiding information about the killer or killers.

Damilola's mother
Damilola's family received condolences from Nigeria
Prince Ajibola reinforced the appeal during his address and message from the Federal Government of Nigeria.

"The people of Nigeria have been deeply touched by the nature of Damilola's untimely death," he said.

"Our only consolation and firm belief rests in our conviction that our little boy is in a far better place now.

"For all of us this day shall remain an unforgettable one because in our culture it is the prayer of everyone that our children bury us and not the other way around."

Damilola's destiny

He said the Nigerian Government was following the investigation and had confidence in the British justice system.

Pastor Olukayode Owolabi, from the church Damilola attended, said the boy had been on a mission to make the world a better place and had come to England from Nigeria to help his sister fight an illness.


What changes do we have to make to the morals and values of this country?

Pastor Olukayode Owolab
"He began to read, use a computer, the internet to access lands far and wide, he began to go to school and would go to the library," he said.

"Unfortunately his journey was cut short."

He read a essay written by Damilola which said: "I want to be the very best, like no-one ever has been.

"The world we must defend and I know it is my destiny."

Funeral cortege
Damilola's journey through life was "cut short"
Mr Owolabi said that society should use the same "zeal and haste" that the schoolboy had shown during his life to change the world for the better.

The service, led by the Reverend Harry Owen, included the hymns, Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, Jesus Loves Me This I Know and Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand.

Rev. Owen said "we must dare to pray that the consciences of those responsible for Damilola's death would be touched and they would confess what they had done".

Singer's card

Messages of sympathy and support left with flowers outside the church including a card from singer Patti Boulaye.

Another tribute read "Rest in peace little angel you'll be sadly missed".

Police have arrested 15 people in connection with the youngster's death, but no-one has been charged.

The funeral took place after police released Damilola's body following a second post-mortem which confirmed that the youngster died from a stab wound to the leg.

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The aftermath

Background
See also:

19 Jan 01 | UK
Rest in peace, Damilola
20 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hague accused of race 'opportunism'
04 Dec 00 | UK
In pictures: Damilola video
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