Students at the University of Toronto have planned a candlelight vigil to honour Nelson Mandela and celebrate his life.
The African Students Association (ASA) will host the gathering on the St. George Campus on Monday evening — four days after the former South African president died at age 95.
One of the ASA’s members — a philosophy major named Sandra Madu who had moved to South Africa from Mozambique in 1994 — said soon after they heard the news, her friends started posting quotes from Mandela on their Facebook pages.
“We all adored him,” she told CityNews.
“[But] I feel like it’s not a time for us to mourn. It’s a time to celebrate his life and the things he did for our country.”
Third-year engineering student Dimpho Radebe said her family moved back to South Africa from Zimbabwe after Mandela was released from prison in 1990.
Things were starting to change and it was getting easier for people of mixed race like Radebe, the child of a South African father and Canadian mother.
She said Mandela was the “face and vision” for many people working to change the system and she had mixed emotions when she heard he had died.
“It was sad for sure because he did represent an era in South Africa,” Radebe said.
“At the same time, it was not as hard to let go because there was this awareness of his health and how it had it been deteriorating. He was human … I had this feeling of being glad that he could finally just rest.”
Elmer Paulo — a York University student who lived in South Africa in the last decade — agreed, but said he had tears in his eyes when he heard the news.
“He was a father figure to everyone [in South Africa],” he said.
“Whenever there was any trouble in the country, he would always say, ‘Relax. Be peaceful.’
“He brought freedom in a peaceful way.”
Click here for more information about the U of T vigil.