16 July 1927 – 23 May 2015
Cedric Mayson was born in the United Kingdom in 1927 and, after studying architecture, he studied to become a minister in the Methodist Church. He married his first wife Jean in England in 1949 and this meant that he wasn’t able to be ordained in England because at that stage the Church did not allow married men to become ministers.
His mentor in the Methodist Church, Dr. Sangster, asked him whether he would be willing take up the Church’s work in South Africa – the Church allowed married ministers there. So in 1953, he and Jean and their first two children came out to South Africa to take up a position in the Ministry here. His first appointment was to Doonside in Natal, and then to Maclear and Tsomo in the Eastern Cape, after which he moved up to Mpumalanga and Gauteng. He and Jean had five boys – Andrew, Jeremy (who died in 1970), Timothy, Peter and David.
He met his present wife Penelope in 1975 and they married in 1976. While on honeymoon in the Western Cape, he was detained by the security police – his first detention. Penelope has two daughters Kimberly and Phillipa by her previous marriage and Penelope and Cedric had their own daughter, Judith (Bongi), in 1978.
He has 14 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
He served as a minister in the Methodist Church from 1953 until 1974. After becoming increasingly concerned about the extent to which the Church was involved in the liberation of black and poor people in South Africa, Cedric left the Church and joined the Christian Institute as a full time staff member. He served the organisation from 1974 until it was banned on 19 October 1977 in a major crackdown on organisations by the Apartheid Government. Cedric was banned for five years on that day but then detained again in November 1981 and held until he was tried for treason in 1983. The trial was adjourned for six weeks, after the judge dismissed Cedric’s statement as inadmissible in court and the state could not find their primary witness. Cedric was granted bail and while out on bail it was decided by the internal wing of the ANC that he should leave South Africa.
He fled to the United Kingdom, joined the Anti-Apartheid Movement there and became part of the ANC in exile from 1984 until 1991 working on the interface between politics and religion.
When he returned to South Africa, after 1991, he became a member of the Faith and Mission Department of the South African Council of Churches, World Conference on Religion and Peace, and served on the Religious Desk of the ANC until his retirement in 2010. During this period, he was involved with various important initiatives, including being the chair of the management committee of the Moral Regeneration Movement and a member of the Selection Panel for the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities. Also during this period, Cedric wrote several books and articles and was responsible for the SABC program ‘Credo’.
When he retired from the ANC in 2010, he and Penelope moved down to the bush in Mpumalanga permanently. He continued to engage and write on the struggle for freedom in South Africa and in the world, with a particular focus on Ubuntu – including economic, environmental, political, social and spiritual components. In this latter period he expressed concern at the extent to which the Ubuntu focus has increasingly become absent in the approach of the ANC and the South African State itself.