Colgate celebrates Nelson Mandela’s legacy

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“This is an important moment for us to reflect both on his life and the lessons he’s taught us,” President Jeffrey Herbst said at Colgate’s celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela. Photo by Erica Hasenjager

Yesterday, the Colgate community joined South Africans and people across the world in honoring the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

The university’s celebration at the chapel featured excerpts of Mandela’s speeches, reflections from various faculty members, and music. It was hosted by the department of Africana and Latin American Studies, the Office of the President, and the ALANA Cultural Center.

“He reminds us that the power of change is indeed ours, when and if we come together,” said Jonathan Hyslop, professor of sociology and Africana and Latin American studies, in his opening remarks. (Read the full remarks.)

President Jeffrey Herbst, who delivered the keynote address, gave his insight based on his time visiting and living in South Africa. “I’ve seen how the country has and has not changed, and most of all, the impact of Mandela on an entire society, on the continent, and indeed, the world,” Herbst said. “This is an important moment for us to reflect both on his life and the lessons he’s taught us.”

Herbst continued: “He held true to a fundamental principle; he believed that South Africa should be unified. In the end, his true guiding stars were immutable.”

Members of the Black Student Union and the African Students’ Union read excerpts of Mandela’s Rivonia Trial speech as well as sections of his inaugural address.


Photo by Erica Hasenjager

Performed in the style of spoken word poetry, these selections of Mandela’s work evoked powerful messages of unity, triumph, and responsibility.

The audience, although solemn, was contemplative of Mandela’s firm convictions.

“As a young woman about to graduate, I can only aspire to follow in Mandela’s footsteps and lead my life with integrity and love as my guides,” said Kate Maffei ’14.

The ceremony closed with a sing-along of the South African National Anthem, which incorporates lyrics in a variety of languages including Zulu, Afrikaans, and English among others. Watch the entire ceremony.