Several events planned to honor Nelson Mandela across territory

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After a week mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, Virgin Islanders are ready to celebrate his life and contributions.

Several events are planned during the next three days to honor his memory and recognize his influence on the territory and the world.

The V.I. Legislature is hosting a tribute to Mandela from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. today at the Ottley Legislative Chambers on St. Thomas.

Senators, community activists, faith leaders, university representatives, students and artists will have an opportunity to give remarks or perform at the remembrance ceremony.

The ceremony is free and open to the public.

"As we mourn him, we renew our determination to live in harmony and peace throughout the Virgin Islands and abroad by fighting to end the vestiges of bigotry, discrimination, hatred and injustice while seeking a world at peace and fighting against ignorance and hunger," Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone said. "May God bless President Nelson Mandela for the example he set, the millions he inspired and for the sacrifices he made to reach and achieve a better and more just world,"

At 7 p.m. Saturday, people will gather on St. Thomas for "Light up Mandela Circle" to honor Mandela's legacy with songs, musical instruments, dance, poetry and stories about the "Lion of Africa."

Everyone in the community is invited to add their personal salute.

In 1988, two years before Mandela was freed from a South African prison, the V.I. Legislature passed a bill creating Mandela Circle at the intersection that merges Wilmot Blyden Drive, Elmo D. Roebuck Road and Centerline Road.

The intersection has a large sign with a photograph of the South African leader and the words, "Let Freedom Reign."

Since news of Mandela's death hit the territory Dec. 5, flowers and signs have been placed in the area in tribute.

On Sunday, the Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John is conducting a clean-up of Mandela Circle. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. in the Pueblo parking lot near the Natural Food store. Bags, gloves and water will be provided.

On St. Croix, Sen. Terrence Nelson is organizing a drum circle and memorial service for Mandela at noon Sunday in Buddhoe Park, Frederiksted.

Drummers, poets, spoken-word performers, preachers, teachers, African dancers and anyone who has something to contribute can come and participate, Nelson said.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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