LIMA — When Nelson Mandela died Dec. 5, he left behind a legacy of helping the country of South Africa erase its sordid past and coming together after the end of apartheid. Thursday, 25 Lima citizens gathered at Providence Missionary Baptist Church to make sure that legacy is not forgotten.
The Rev. A. L. Butler said the lessons learned from Mandela ring just as true in Lima or any other place in the world as they do in South Africa.
“I thought it would be enlightening to understand what Mandela stood for,” Butler said. “He was about what is right. He was the first black president in South Africa and he helped bring a nation together. We can use his lessons to bring us together as a community and not as a race.”
Butler said he holds a quote made by Mandela close, in which he said “I hate race discrimination most intensely and all its manifestation. I have fought it all during my life. I fight it now and will continue to do so until the end of my days.”
Lima councilor Derry Glenn emceed the event, and said the city would continue the legend of Mandela.
“This is a seed and we are planting a tradition,” Glenn said. “We are planting a tradition. This guy did it the hard way, not like Obama. His Harvard was a jail cell.”
The Rev. Jimmy Wilkerson said Mandela will forever be remembered as a freedom fighter for all people.
“When I think about Mandela, I think about Lima,” Wilkerson said. “Apartheid and segregation. There is no difference.”
Wilkerson talked about the life of Mandela and described the impact it had. He talked about Mandela’s time in prison for 29 years beginning in 1962 and how he was able to rise above it all.
“Some people spend 30 days in the Allen County Jail and they think it is hard,” Wilkerson said. “This guy had 29 years to sit and figure out what he was going to say to his people.”
He added that the key to Mandela’s message was that he put the past behind him and looked forward. He said Mandela focused on improving the situation for everyone.
“He knew how to turn the other cheek,” Wilkerson said. “He had love despite how they treated him. If you can’t forgive you are already incarcerated. Mandela came from a rich tribe but he cared about the problems that were going on.”
Courtney Owens recited a poem, and started the poem off by saying it was important to realize what people like Mandela had done.
“If we don’t know where we’ve been, we don’t know where we are going,” Owens said.
Sheila Banks also did an interpretive dance in memory of Mandela.
Glenn added that it is important to remember what freedom fighters like Mandela had done because it was important to carry on his work to the youth of the community.