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The BBC's Sean Brickell
"Five years after his last visit to Britain, the former South African President was received just as enthusiastically"
 real 56k

Saturday, 28 April, 2001, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Cathedral crowds greet Mandela
Nelson Mandela outside Southwark Cathedral
The sun shone as Mandela arrived at the cathedral
Crowds cheered former South African President Nelson Mandela as he arrived to open a 10m development at Southwark Cathedral in London.

Mr Mandela is in Britain for a month-long cultural festival designed to celebrate the changes in South Africa since the end of apartheid.

At an opening ceremony inside the cathedral on Saturday, Mr Mandela thanked those in the UK who had campaigned for the end of apartheid.

Nelson Mandela spoke to children
Mandela chatted to children outside cathedral
"Without that moral and material support we could not have achieved what we now celebrate."

Outside the cathedral, Mr Mandela, 82, spotted children in the crowd straining to catch a glimpse of him.

In a touching moment, he called them forward and spent several minutes speaking to them.

The 1,000-year-old cathedral's transformation includes a new visitor centre, to cope with an anticipated 10-fold increase in visitors.

London's oldest cathedral

Southwark Cathedral is older than its more famous neighbours, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral, but is the least visited of the three.

The cathedral by London Bridge on the south bank of the Thames, received a 4.2m Millennium Commission grant towards the 10.2m redevelopment.

This allowed it to be restored, cleaned and lit, and its churchyard to be expanded.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Tutu was a curate at the cathedral
There is now a Millennium Square with an eating area and a new library overlooking the Thames.

A room has been dedicated to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who helped launch the project three years ago.

He was a curate in the Southwark diocese while studying theology at King's College in London.

Mr Mandela paid tribute to Archbishop Tutu as a "symbol of hope" in the "darkest days of apartheid".

"When so many of the political leaders of the people were banished to exile, were forced to operate underground or were imprisoned, Desmond Tutu was foremost amongst those who stepped into that breach to give moral leadership in the fight against apartheid," said Mr Mandela.

Free concert

Mr Mandela will also be guest of honour at a free concert in Trafalgar Square on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Britain's role in helping to end apartheid.

Rock group REM, the Corrs and Atomic Kitten will be among more than 30 performers from Britain and South Africa performing at the South Africa Freedom Day concert.

Peter Buck and Michael Stipe of REM
REM will be playing in Trafalgar Square
Eighteen musicians from the Prince's Trust and 18 youngsters from South Africa will be joining the music stars before the concert.

The concert, in aid of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Prince's Trust, marks the seventh anniversary of South Africa's Freedom Day weekend.

All the 20,000 allocated free tickets have been snapped up and organisers said no one should just turn up to the Square on Sunday.

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See also:

28 Apr 01 | Music
REM relish Mandela concert
11 Feb 00 | Africa
Mandela marks prison release
18 Jul 00 | Africa
Mandela: 82 years young
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