Faith In Brooklyn
By Francesca Norsen Tate
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a charismatic Brooklyn pastor and widely-known civil rights activist, last week gave a press conference to report on his attendance at the private funeral and burial of former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Affectionately named Madiba (his tribal name), Nelson Mandela died on Dec. 5 at age 95. A leading member of the African National Congress (ANC), which opposed South Africa’s policy of racial separation known as apartheid, he became a political prisoner for this cause. The then-white minority government outlawed the ANC in 1960. Captured and jailed in 1962, Mandela was convicted two years later of treason and sentenced to life in prison. South African President F.W. de Klerk finally released him in 1990, lifted the ANC ban, and worked with Mandela to abolish apartheid. Mandela forged a new, multi-racial democracy. Mandela and de Klerk shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. Mandela, now a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement, became South Africa’s first black democratically-elected president. His family also recognized the work of civil rights leaders in the United States, Revs. Daughtry and Jesse Jackson among them, in helping about this change in South Africa.
Rev. Daughtry was one of a few clergy leaders selected to take part in Mandela’s funeral and burial rites. Accompanying him was his grandson, 24-year-old Lorenzo Daughtry Chambers, Northeast District Leader for the House of the Lord Church, and a sixth-generation minister.
Together, they gave the press conference at the House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue, in Boerum Hill.
Daughtry reported that he was with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and that Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa also attended. (According to several news reports from the U.S. and international media, both Jackson and Archbishop Tutu had experienced difficulties in being admitted to the ceremonies because of gaps in communication been government and military authorities in South Africa; but they were ultimately able to attend.)
Rev. Daughtry also had the opportunity to meet with Ayanda Dlodlo, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration. “She expressed gratitude on behalf of South African President Jacob Zuma, the African National Congress, and the South African people for the work we have done,” recalled Rev. Daughtry. He had the chance to present her with gifts of his autographed books: “The South African Reader,” “In My Lifetime: Towards the Presidency of Barack Obama” and “Made to Master,” along with memorabilia photographs.
Lorenzo Daughtry Chambers also spoke of the inspiration he gained from witnessing the farewell of a leader who worked so hard for the end of apartheid—before Chambers was born. He said being able to share this moment with his grandfather was also a deep inspiration.
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Excerpts from the Rev. Herb Daughtry’s Press Conference
Describing Nelson Mandela’s funeral and burial in detail, Rev. Daughtry remarked, “I was standing at the gravesite of a man who had risen from this small village not far away (Qunu) to become the president of the world. He had brought back to this humble village, with dotted farmlands and small houses, the world’s movers and shakers. This man, whose name it seems that I have been calling for so many years of my 55 years of ministry, and whose freedom and rise to the presidency of South Africa, I had played some small role as I, and others, led the Free South Africa/Free Nelson Mandela movement.”
Rev. Daughtry added, “And now, here I stood, participating in the final ceremony. It was as though we had journeyed together and I had been summoned to say farewell at the end of his journey…How many people across the globe would have given anything to be present for this occasion—to say farewell to a man the world had come to love and appreciate?”
Lorenzo Daughtry Chambers, Rev. Daughtry’s grandson, remarked, “This trip really hit home and crystallized the lesson of the struggle—what the struggle is really about, why we struggled for so long and the fruits of the struggle. It granted me an appreciation for the oneness of what we are fighting for. The fact that there are struggles in South Africa, just as there are struggles in Brooklyn, just as there are struggles in Tanzania. And so to be in South Africa, and feel the warmth of the people, to hear and see the appreciation for what those who struggle in New York and Brooklyn have done, really crystallized the oneness of us all. And it also inspired me to think about where we’re going and what we’re doing...A charge has been put on us as a generation to honor the memory and the legacy of Nelson Mandela in really doing what he did—impacting the world in a major way.”