Locals honor Mandela with memorial service, second line - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Locals honor Mandela with memorial service, second line

Musicians play during second line procession in Nelson Mandela's honor. Musicians play during second line procession in Nelson Mandela's honor.

NEW ORLEANS - Political, civic and religious leaders joined hundreds of citizens at a memorial service at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts Friday to honor the legacy of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Meanwhile, a South African woman now residing in the New Orleans area said she will be forever grateful for the timing of a trip that had her back in her homeland on the day Mandela died this week at the age of 95.

"Nelson Mandela a singular man, a human being, was in fact a giant not only of the modern age, but really of all ages," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu during the memorial service. "He showed us that for all things and for all seasons love and forgiveness and reconciliation must be our North Star. He showed us how along with empathy and dignity that the forces of freedom and goodness always triumph over evil and oppression."

"It's just so awesome to know that his living will not be in vain, so it is an honor to be here on this day for his memorial service," said Jacqueline Hurst, who attended the memorial service and second line procession.

"He was an incredible peacemaker, a man of his word, and he suffered for his country and his people, and because of that we're all here today - all different colors, shapes and sizes," said Anna Quarles, another attendee.

And not only are New Orleanians talking about the legacy of Nelson Mandela, back in the 1980's and early 90's there were actually protests here in this city calling for an end to Apartheid.

"He was a legend and it was very overwhelming," said Ashlena Thomas, a native of South Africa who now resides in this area.

She was in her homeland at the time Mandela died.

"Very, very sad day to think that this person is no longer with us," she said.

A native of Cape Town, Thomas remembers the euphoria in her homeland when Mandela was freed and when he was elected president of South Africa.

"Amazing, overwhelming feeling, I remember that day was joyful, life-changing for everyone," she said.

Her memories of Mandela as president are myriad.

"His dance, his Mandiba dance and every time he would come on TV, that dance, if I think of him I remember that dance he always did," she said.

Thomas said as a child she even visited the prison where Mandela was kept because her uncle was also a political prisoner.

"He was at Robben Island, he was a political prisoner as well," she said.

And this week before leaving South Africa Thomas signed a book of condolences for Mandela's family. And while she is saddened that he is gone, Thomas couldn't be happier with fate's gift of timing.

"I was happy to be there," she said.

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