SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY — They are a part of the born free generation in South Africa. A generation Nelson Mandela made possible. Friday night they honored the man that opened doors and paved the road to new opportunities. “As sad as I am he's passed on, he was a great icon for us,” said Lebo Mokoena, a student from South Africa attending Skidmore College.
For Lebo, Mandela was more than just a figurehead. He made the education she's always dreamed of a reality. She says during one of Oprah's visit to South Africa she asked Mandela what she could do to give thanks. Mandela told Oprah she could build a school, and Oprah did build that school. Lebo was one of the first students to attend.
“He's given me gift of education. Now I have to fulfill his dreams,” she said.
She shared that story at Mandela's vigil where many international students joined together to light candles, dance, and share how Mandela changed their lives.
“Being South African the fact that we could attend schools,” said Thabang Maphothone also from South Africa.
Now these students are hoping to continue Mandela's legacy.