Nelson Mandela condolence books open; Tribute held in Chicago by Rev. Jesse Jackson

December 6, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The consulate has two condolence books available to sign in Chicago:

Consul General's Office
200 S. Michigan Avenue
11:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Harold Washington Library
400 S. State Street
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Nelson Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95. His funeral will be held on December 15 after a week of mourning around the world.

With raised voices and bowed heads, mourners at a tribute to Mandela held on Chicago's South Side paid tribute to a giant of history. Reverend Jesse Jackson saying he plans to fly to South Africa for that country's national memorial service.

"It's up to us to keep that light lit, that torch burning, for the next generation and generations after that, so I needed to be here," said Kelly Longmire.

The Rev.Jackson painted a portrait of a complicated leader who balanced power and grace.

"He chose to get ahead rather than get even. He chose reconciliation over revenge and retaliation," said Rev. Jackson.

At the South African Consulate, mourners poured their hearts into condolence books.

"He was a father figure to me. He made sense to who I am and what I was trying to do," said Haroon Rashid.

As the consulate makes plans for a public memorial in Chicago, State Reprentative La Shawn Ford has proposed another tribute to change the name of Cicero Avenue in the city and suburbs to "Mandela Road."

But in honoring the icon, Rev. Jackson highlighted another road: South Africa's path forward from what he says are remaining economic inequalities.

"We must now address the unfinished business: free but not equal," said Rev. Jackson.

For a new generation of post-Mandela South Africans, among them University of Chicago student Jay Schutte, there's now anxiety over who will fill the void.

"You're really going to need, actually, is somebody who is their own kind of leader. There is nobody who can emulate Nelson Mandela," said Schutte.

From those who met him, to those who have been inspired by his life, the legacy of the former South African president lives on.

At the South African Consulate in Chicago, mourners remember Nelson Mandela and write messages from their hearts in a book of condolences.

"This is a way for me to express my gratitude and to say thank you God for giving us Madiba," said Moussa Koné, Mali citizen.

And because there is such an outpouring, the Consul General says there will be a public memorial in Chicago so everyone can share their experiences about Mandela.

"Because we are South Africans, we see him in one dimension and it is important to me to open our ears and eyes to other aspects of who Mandela is," said Vuyiswa Tulelo, South Africa Consul General.

Mandela's influence reached Chicago clergy members, like Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church on the South Side. He was able to speak to Mandela one-on-one during Mandela's visit to Chicago in 1993.

"I remember I tried to ask him what it was like, how he did with 27 years. He grabbed my hand and said 'It made me stronger,'" said Father Pfleger.

That strength is what so many South Africans remember, and long for in the next generation.

"I think his passing has affected all of us so much because it's the immediate marker of the lack of those kind of figures that one can turn to. He was the last of a very particular generation," said Mbongeni Mtshali, Northwestern University Ph.D. candidate.

Organizers at Rainbow PUSH are also looking at possibly arranging bus service for those who want to attend the national tribute in Washington next Wednesday.

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