The City of Oakland held a moving memorial last Wednesday to celebrate the life and times of Nelson Mandela. The event was open to citizens and was also sponsored by State Assembly reps Rob Bonta and Nancy Skinner.

This Oakland tribute and celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela included words and reflection from South African Consul General Mr. Cyril S. Ndaba and also from Mayor Jean Quan and Deputy Mayor Sandre Swanson, who was MC for Memorial event. 

Mayor Jean Quan : "We haven't done the work that Nelson Mandela has asked us to do."

Mayor Jean Quan : “We haven’t done the work that Nelson Mandela has asked us to.”

Mayor Quan noted that Oakland was where the boycott of the Apartheid regime began with the ILWU refusing to unload South African goods at the Port of Oakland. “We were at the forefront in so many ways as fighters of Apartheid. We are now at the forefront of carrying on for Mandela’s spirit. …The way we honor Nelson Mandela, the way we honor Madiba, is to fight against racism when we are at home, to fight against poverty around the world and in this city, to not rest until every child in this city has something to eat… to not rest until every young man finishes high school, and that has not happened yet, and has a job. And we’re not done until the unemployment rate is not 3 times the national average!”

Quan continued by adding, “We all have to rise together. We can’t just have some use doing better and some of us not. And until those young people in East Oakland finish school [and get jobs]… we’re not done, we haven’t done the work that Nelson Mandela has asked us to do.”

Quoting Mandela, Quan added, “Judge me not on my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up.”  Quan explained that our ability to come together and rise above our differences in Oakland would be a fitting tribute to Mandela.

Andrea Turner, lead musical director of Vukani Mawethu.

Andrea Turner, lead musical director of Vukani Mawethu.

The Vukani Mawethu Choir, who perform songs of Africa struggle and sang for Mandela at the Oakland Coliseum during his historic visit to Oakland in 1990, performed attribute in song. And two songs – “African Noel” and “From a Distance” – were performed by the City and Port of Oakland Employees Chorus.  YouTube clips of these choirs are available here and here.

Oakland's Vocal Motion will appear on NBC's "The Voice"


Vocal Rush, the singing group from Oakland’s School for the Arts which is currently a semi-finalist on NBC’s “The Sing Off ,” also performed.


In addition there was a special readings of Mandela’s work by Ajali de Veaux-Griffith for Oakland’s School for the Arts and the signing of a memorial book that will sent to the Mandela family.

Images from the event, held in side the City Hall dome, are below.  More images are on-line here.



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