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Jackson leads South Side vigil for Mandela

Mouss33 Chicago signs book condolences NelsMandellSouth African consulate 200 S. Michigan Ave. Friday. Nov. 06 2013 | Alex Wroblewski~Sun-Times

Moussa, 33, of Chicago signs the book of condolences of Nelson Mandella at the South African consulate, at 200 S. Michigan Ave. on Friday. Nov. 06, 2013 | Alex Wroblewski~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 8, 2014 6:09AM

Before leading a prayer vigil for Nelson Mandela on the South Side Friday evening, the Rev. Jesse Jackson recalled being in Capetown, South Africa in 1990 when Mandela was released from prison.

“He was so vibrant, the country was so alive,” Jackson remembered. “His body released [from prison], created such joy around the world, just as his spirit being released sent such pain around the world.”

Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president, died Thursday at age 95.

Jackson said Mandela’s legacy would be that “he chose to get ahead rather than to get even. He chose reconciliation over revenge and retaliation.”

Jackson noted the parallels between the struggles of blacks in the U.S. and in South Africa.

“Dr. King was stabbed and [hit by rocks] and killed,” Jackson said at his Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters in Kenwood.

“Mandela was jailed and put in prison. To see them take their pain and turn it into power is the miracle of our time.”

Jackson said he plans to go to South Africa to attend at least one of several memorial services planned for the late leader.

Earlier Friday, several people — both from South Africa and beyond — gathered at the Consulate General of the Republic of South Africa to pay their respects to Mandela and sign a condolence book.

Among those was Lord Mayor of Belfast Màirtìn Ò Muilleoir from Ireland, who happened to be in Chicago for business and said he had to come to the consulate because of what Mandela meant to Ireland.

“He belonged to all peace-loving people across the world, but in particular, he played a crucial role in the Irish peace process,” Muilleoir said, referring to peace talks Mandela hosted which helped lead to a ceasefire in Northern Ireland. “There would be no peace in Ireland without the...assistance of Nelson Mandela and the South African government.”

One of the first who showed up to sign the condolence book — Moussa Kone, 33, who is originally from Mali but now lives in Chicago — also talked about Mandela’s inspiring message of peace and love, despite his 27 years in prison.

“Nelson Mandela inspired, not only Africans, but to people throughout the world that the better way to overcome violence and oppression is by love,” Kone said. “To go through what he went through and what his wife went through and come out and still be able to preach love, it takes a hell of a man to do that.”

Those who didn’t get to sign the condolence book can still do so at the consulate, 200 S. Michigan Ave., next Monday through next Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Another condolence book also will be available at Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St., during library hours. The consulate will announce plans of a memorial in Chicago by Tuesday, they said.



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