A candelight vigil celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, the former South African president and freedom fighter, is set to be held at Leimert Park at 5 p.m. Friday. Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, made an impact on thousands when he visited Los Angeles in 1990, shortly after being released from prison. Toni Guinyard reports from Leimert Park for Today in LA on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.
A candlelight vigil paying tribute to the life of late freedom fighter and former South African president Nelson Mandela will be held Friday evening in South LA.
The vigil is set for 5 p.m. at Leimert Park in South Los Angeles, and is just one of several tributes expected to take place throughout Los Angeles.
Mandela, who visited Los Angeles in June 1990 just months after being released from 27 years in prison, left an indelible mark on thousands when he spoke on the front steps of City Hall.
“We admire you, we respect you, and above all, we love you,” Mandela told the crowd.
Darlene Donloe, a former publicist of the anti-apartheid leader, said she remembers asking Mandela not long after he was released from prison if he was angry at the way he was treated.
“And he looked me dead in the eye and he said, ‘being bitter is a waste of time,’” Donloe said. “It’s very surreal to me to realize that I sat in a room with just me and Nelson Mandela just having a conversation."
A book of condolences will be available for the public to sign at the South African Consulate at 6300 Wilshire Boulevard between Monday, Dec. 9 and Friday, Dec. 13. The book will be in the lobby between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Mandela visited Los Angeles on two trips, and Donloe remembers what she was thinking as she watched as he walked to the stage to give a speech at the LA Coliseum.
“Nelson Mandela … it doesn’t get any better than that,” Donloe said.
Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95. The anti-apartheid leader will be buried on Sunday, Dec. 15 at his home in Qunu, and a memorial service in a Johannesburg stadium will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 10.