Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Two Mandela memorial services in city

'Joyous moment,' says organizer

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Frank Indome says the public is welcome at the African Communities of Manitoba's memorial service for Mandela on Sunday.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Frank Indome says the public is welcome at the African Communities of Manitoba's memorial service for Mandela on Sunday. Photo Store

This weekend, Manitobans can pay homage to Nelson Mandela at two different services in Winnipeg.

On Saturday at 2 p.m. a celebration of the iconic human rights champion's life will be held at the Manitoba Legislative Building.

On Sunday at 5 p.m., the African Communities of Manitoba Inc. is holding a lively memorial vigil at the Ethiopian Cultural Centre to pay respects to one of Africa's greatest sons.

"For Nelson Mandela, it's not your normal, solemn funeral where people there are crying and weeping," said Frank Indome, spokesman for the African Communities of Manitoba. The umbrella organization represents around 25 African groups and hosts a Folklorama pavilion every year.

"He impacted a lot of people in this world and it's a joyous moment for us to reflect on his life." The event will be peppered with African singing, drumming and dancing. There will be an audio-visual tribute to Mandela and speeches from dignitaries and African community members reflecting on what South Africa's greatest son meant to them.

"He called for changes, which everyone can do in their own small way and how that turns out, together, to be a big change for the world," said Indome, who came to Winnipeg from Ghana in 1995. He said he's channelling Mandela by volunteering in his community.

Indome said they're passing the hat at Sunday's vigil to start a bursary fund for a student of African heritage who exemplifies Mandela's qualities.

"The whole African community is going to be there," said Indome, and the public is welcome to join them.

"Madiba belongs to all of us," said Strini Reddy, a 75-year-old anti-apartheid activist who grew up in South Africa and is organizing Saturday's 2 p.m. service at the legislature.

"Since the news of his passing, lots of people called me and said 'are you doing anything?' " said the retired educator and community volunteer.

"It was so heartwarming to hear so many people wanting to have a celebration of life for a great man -- he touched lives of people all over the world," he said. "It's quite surprising to see how many people are interested." Reddy was moved to do something for his beloved Mandela.

Reddy, who came to Winnipeg when he was 23, vividly remembers apartheid in South Africa before Mandela led the movement to crush it.

"It was very shabby treatment of somebody who was not white. There was the constant threat that if you protested you could be jailed arbitrarily. Life was not pleasant," said the man of Indian descent.

"Every amenity and facility when they did exist -- and often they didn't for people called non-white -- was inferior. Physically, you could see people treated differently. It hit you in the face," said Reddy, who noted South Africa's apartheid regime sent officials to Canada to study its reserve system for ideas.

"The people very deliberately receiving the worst treatment were the indigenous people of South Africa. They were shunted off into homelands," he said. "The thought was they would weaken people by dividing them up into small groups and shunting them off to remote areas of the country."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2013 A4

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