Paying Our Respects

This entry is cross-posted from and authored by Leah Maddox

Respects.jpg.pngAfter a 20 hour flight from Washington D.C. to South Africa, SEIU Millennial members Stephanie Knighten and Shanisha Robinson had little time to relax. Instead they made plans immediately to immerse themselves among the community of supporters and pay their respects to Nelson Mandela.

“My grandmother – who is 100 years old – told me that I needed to kiss the ground of my home country as soon as I arrived,” said Stephanie. “It’s important that I make the most of each moment I’m here.”

Line to see Nelson Mandela

Stephanie and Shanisha went to the government buildings of Pretoria, the same spot where Mandela was sworn in as President in 1994. It is here that Mandela’s body lies until Sunday when he is buried Qunu.

“The amount of people who were there – to see him – was unbelievable,” Shanesha said. “So many people that have so much respect and so much love for one man. It was powerful.”

“I am just grateful,” added Stephanie, “to not only be here, but to see the amount of love and honor that is possible.”

They also met U.S. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard and his wife Raina for lunch, and heard stories about the Ambassador’s younger days supporting the anti-apartheid movement.

Ambassador Gaspard“I talked with Raina about the young leaders in our union, and how we’re building a movement to make change in our country,” remarked Stephanie. “She responded that their 13 year old daughter has a passion for social justice, and was excited when she heard her dad was working for the President and then even happier when she heard they were all moving to South Africa.”

“Young people are our future!” piped up Shanisha.



If you missed our first post about HCII member Stephanie Knighten’s journey to South Africa, click here to check it out. 

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