2013 Past Headlines

Professor Lemmer Describes Life in Johannesburg after Mandela's Passing

12/10/2013

Memorial Flowers for Nelson MandelaDay-to-day life may be ongoing, but it’s proceeding with “a steady throb of a mixture of sadness and celebration” since people learned of the death of Nelson Mandela on December 5, said Professor Catherine Lemmer. She is working on a six-month assignment as a Senior Fellow at the Legal Resource Center (LRC) in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. She is in South Africa to modernize LRC’s libraries, organize the collections, and procure the technology lawyers get accustomed to using in law school and require for practicing law.

The LRC has a long and personal history with Nelson Mandela. In the days following the announcement, Lemmer said her LRC colleagues shared recollections of Mandela. George Bizos, an advocate with the LRC and Mandela’s attorney, was among those who shared personal stories. “It was obvious” Lemmer said “from these recollections and stories that even though Mandela was a world icon, someone larger than life, he was a man of the people.”

“Many South Africans went to Mandela’s home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton and to his prior residence in Soweto on Thursday night after hearing President Zuma’s announcement to start impromptu memorials,” Lemmer said. “Mourners brought flowers and other tributes, lit candles, and danced and sang to celebrate his life.”

One mother, asked by her child to explain the memorials, described it this way in a conversation Lemmer overheard: “We want to celebrate that Madiba is at peace with the ancestors." Lemmer notes that this is perhaps the best description of the events taking place in South Africa. Although in mourning, “we are celebrating the legacy of a life dedicated to the advancement of a country and its people.”

Readers can learn more about Lemmer’s experiences, and see photos and videos she captured of South Africa’s response to Mandela’s death, on her blog, right angle resume


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