Nelson Mandela Memorial Candlelight Vigil


Attendees gathered at "The Yard" at Howard University to remember and honor Nelson Mandela. Photo: Katelyn Brewer

After days of tributes and ceremonies, Nelson Mandela was buried in his childhood village on Sunday, December 15. As the sun set that same day in Washington, D.C., a crowd formed on Howard University’s main quad, “The Yard,” to pay their respects to Tata Madiba as well. Africare partnered with four chapters of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. sorority to organize a candlelight vigil for members of the public to gather, share stories, reflect on the significance of Mandela’s life and encourage each other to sustain his legacy.


Dr. Jean Bailey of Howard University addresses the crowd as the sun sets Sunday, December 15. Photo: Katelyn Brewer

Nicole Miles of Africare; Dr. Jean Bailey, Chair of the Howard University Republic of South Africa Project; and Takera Boston and Sabrina Williams, Presidents of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s Alpha and Xi Zeta Omega Chapters, respectively, each addressed the crowd. Then, everyone present lit memorial candles and used everything they could - their hands, their backs, “Long Live Madiba” signs – to shield the flames from the wind. After a moment of silence, the group stayed despite the cold as individuals shared their personal reflections. A Nigerian-American woman had been inspired by Mandela’s leadership, his willingness to serve and to relinquish power. A young man recounted his experience researching Mandela for a school assignment and being amazed that one person really could change the world. Seasoned development professionals and activists described work focused on South Africa and their impressions of the country in the time following Mandela’s election.


Vigil attendees light and shield candles from the wind. Photo: Katelyn Brewer

At the end of the hour the candles had blown out, and feet and hands were numbing, but the crowd dispersed buoyed by the fellowship and carrying Mandela’s example with them.

Click any of the images above, or click here, to view more photos from the vigil.

<<Back to Africare Events