News / USA

NYC Mandela Memorial Service Attendees Express Sorrow, Awe

More than 2,000 people lined up in the bitter cold outside New York's Riverside Church for the opportunity to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
More than 2,000 people lined up in the bitter cold outside New York's Riverside Church for the opportunity to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
Adam Phillips
Like uncounted millions of others around the world, many New Yorkers felt profound respect and admiration for Nelson Mandela, the anti-Apartheid activist and political prisoner who became the first black president of South Africa.  At his death last week at the age of 95, Mr. Mandela had become a potent symbol of racial struggle and the possibility of reconciliation between foes.  Prior to a memorial service for Mr. Mandela in New York’s historic Riverside Church, attendees were asked by VOA about “their Mandela” and what his legacy will be.            

An upbeat, yet somber crowd of 2,000 or more mourners slowly filed into Riverside Church in Manhatten late Wednesday, relieved to be out of the bitter cold and eager to pay homage to the late Nelson Mandela, who had been hosted and celebrated inside this very church in 2005.

A large photo of Nelson Mandela was displayed near the main altar at the Riverside Church in New York during the late leader's memorial service, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)A large photo of Nelson Mandela was displayed near the main altar at the Riverside Church in New York during the late leader's memorial service, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
x
A large photo of Nelson Mandela was displayed near the main altar at the Riverside Church in New York during the late leader's memorial service, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
A large photo of Nelson Mandela was displayed near the main altar at the Riverside Church in New York during the late leader's memorial service, Dec. 11, 2013. (Adam Phillips/VOA)
Adam Fraser was only two years old at the time, but he has been often told of Mr. Mandela’s 27 years as a political prisoner on Robben Island, off Cape Town.

"And yet his spirit wasn’t broken when he came out in 1990," Fraser said. "He was willing to stand for what he believed in, even if that meant life in prison which he could have gotten."

For Martina Bouey, a Bostonian who travelled here to attend this service,  Mr. Mandela represented the victory of love over fear and fury.

"He embodied that to me. Being able to suffer such oppression and anger and hatred coming toward him, and then to still be able to mend fences and still be able to reach out even to his jailer and to make policy and to say ‘at the end of the day we are all human beings and we have to figure this out together," Bouey said.

Bouey also conveyed to VOA what she hoped to come away with emotionally from the service.

"It’s an opportunity to pay my respects and to be able to express gratitude and thankfulness for his life and for what he did for the whole world - even though he may not have known he was doing it for the whole world when he was doing it," she said.

As a post-Apartheid citizen, David, a young South African working temporarily in New York, knows that Mr. Mandela is considered “the Father of His Country.” Yet he has a more intimate connection with the man dating back to a party he attended when he was 10 years old.     

“I was sitting someplace off center with my brother and he was just walking around and he came down and sat next to us and just started talking. But he had this magical way of just focusing in on you and making you feel like you were the center of the universe while you were in his presence. He was a fantastic guy," David said. 

For Stephanie Urdang, a white South African who remembers the harshest days of Apartheid and who now lives in New York, it isn’t Mr. Mandela’s embrace of others, but the world’s embrace of Mr. Mandela, that seems most remarkable.

“What’s struck me in the last few days, just watching the media and watching the memorial in South Africa is he is a universal figure" Urdang said. "He is everybody’s. And that’s what’s so amazing, everybody in the world sees him as their moral compass, I think."

Nelson Mandela will lie in state in Pretoria, the South African capital, until Saturday, when he will be moved to his birthplace, Qunu, for a funeral service and burial on Sunday.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ombati jeremiah from: kenya
December 12, 2013 8:42 AM
Indeed its loyal and sounds beautiful that even in the USA paid their tribute to the fallen great eminent father,thanks to our brothers and in newyolk,you av shown globally that mandela was aluminary to be emulated fare thee well(tata)father

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More