Georgians from across the state gathered into the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College Wednesday evening to pay their respects to the late Nelson Mandela. The memorial service was organized by the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and Morehouse College.
Speakers included former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young and Reverend Bernice King, who remembered the former South African president fondly and tied Mandela’s more than thirty-year fight to end Apartheid in South Africa to the civil rights movement in the south during the 1960s.
Reverend Mokgabo Senatle of Big Bethel AME Church in downtown Atlanta gave the final speech of the memorial. Senatle came to Atlanta from South Africa in 1967.
’He walked out of that prison with his head held high. He preached reconciliation, not revenge. He forgave those who destroyed his land. The true meaning of loving your enemies. He even invited one of his prison guards to his inauguration. What kind of a man was this? Some likened him to a saint. I frankly, have nothing against that designation.”
The memorial speeches ended with the South African National Anthem, sung by members of the South African community.
Lingani Matiwane came to the U.S. in 1996 from South Africa. He attended Florida State University and moved from Florida to Atlanta in 2008. Matiwane is in the comedy group of the South Africa Atlanta Association.
The non-profit held a memorial celebration last week at the Free Nelson Mandela sculpture at Piedmont park. He said he’s glad the people in the city took the time to celebrate the late president’s life.
“I think it was really awesome of them to put this together. There’s a parallel between what Martin Luther King did and what Mandela did. And I think, what it actually is, Mandela looked up to Martin Luther King,” he said. “In a sense, I really believe that Mandela was Martin Luther King’s protégée. And being here at Morehouse, what is a better place to be at?”
Nelson Mandela died at his home in South Africa on Dec. 5. He was 95. The former leader and humanitarian will be buried in his boyhood town on Sunday, December 15.
Note: An updated version of this story will be available on Dec. 13 at 10:00 a.m. EST