The African Cultural Association of Greater Lowell in collaboration with the Lowell Community Charter Public School organized a memorial celebration in honor of the late Nelson Mandela tonight at the Charter School on Jackson Street in Lowell. The fast moving program consisted of speeches, music, dancing and a video tribute. The video slide show below offers a visual taste of those who took the stage to the background music of the South African national anthem (which was sung tonight right after the U.S. national anthem).
In his opening prayer, Pastor Jerry Menyongai said that everyone is placed on earth for a reason and that by celebrating the life of Mandela, we are all reminded the one person can make a difference. State Senator Eileen Donoghue said that Mandela is a great example for Lowell because our city’s greatness has been based on the integration of people from many countries and cultures but also on the preservation by all of those groups of their own cultures which has greatly enriched the city. In remembering Mandela, she said, we must also remember the importance in society of fairness, equity and justice and that we all reach our greatest potential by caring for others with compassion and understanding. One of the M.C.’s, Bowa Tucker, told us that just because we happen to be free does not relieve us of the responsibility of working to make all people free. Mayor Patrick Murphy said that this celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela should remind us that poverty is not addressed through charity, it is addressed through justice. He went on to quote remarks made by Robert Kennedy in South Africa in which he spoke of how great men like Nelson Mandela are able to bend the arc of history but that while most of the rest of us to not have that power, we do have the capacity in our everyday lives to emulate Mandela in our own small ways and that the many ripples caused by such individual acts eventually build into a giant wave that sweeps away the walls of oppression.
Besides the remarks summarized above, there were great musical performances from the Lowell Community Charter Public School Percussion Band, an excellent singing tribute by two Lowell High students, Daniela Deny and Samone Cobb, traditional African music by the Osibi Drumming & Singing Group of Lowell and traditional music and dancing by the Singo Dance Troupe from Vermont.