Indiana political, community and faith leaders gathered at the Statehouse today to mourn the death and celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela.
Though many of the speakers at the service for the late South African leader expressed sorrow at his passing, the focus was on Nelson Mandela’s legacy and the example he set for people across the world.
Former state representative Bill Crawford was the president of Indiana’s Free South Africa movement. He says he’s not grieving because there’s still work to be done.
“One generation plants the trees; another generation enjoys the shade,” he says. “What choice are we going to make? Are we going to continue Madiba’s struggle not just to plant the tree and walk away but make sure that all generations enjoy the shade?”
Senator Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, says while there is sadness, there is also great joy in celebrating such a wonderful life.
“What a giant we have lost but how lucky we were to be in his presence,” he says.
Donnelly says the lesson Hoosiers should learn from Mandela is that when they look at one another, they should look at the best part of each other.
The memorial in Indianapolis, hosted by the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, was one of many held around the world today on what was designated a day of prayer and remembrance for the South African leader.
As the Guardian reports, in South Africa, millions swarmed to churches, mosques and synagogues to hear messages about Mandela’s life and accomplishments.
At the Regina Mundi church in Soweto, there was standing room only at the 9am mass, as hundreds of worshippers and a formidable number of camera crews packed the aisles to hear Father Sebastian Rossouw describe Mandela as a guiding light for the nation.
At the church, famous for being a meeting place for anti-apartheid activists and around which the 1976 Soweto uprising took place, Rossouw echoed the mantra that is fast becoming a theme here: “Mandela was our light in the darkness,” he said. “Learn from his life. Madiba claimed his humanity and showed the heights to which humanity can rise. But we can have another Mandela. So to say there will never be another as great is wrong. Amongst us is another who can be like him.”
Mandela’s funeral is scheduled for next Sunday, Dec. 15. He died Thursday at the age of 95.