Updated: 12/14/2013 12:18 AM
Created: 12/13/2013 11:53 PM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch
ALBANY – A Capital Region man, who grew up in South Africa, told NewsChannel 13 the late Nelson Mandela was a friend to him.
Bojana Jordan, 83, said he and Mandela herded cattle together in the early 1940s, and remained in contact for the next 70 years.
"He's easily one of the greatest human beings who ever lived," Jordan said. "Very, very considerate. Forgiving. A good mentor politically, educationally."
Jordan, who came to Albany in the 1980s and later taught college courses here, attended a candlelight memorial service Friday in memory of Mandela.
The ceremony, held outside the African-American Cultural Center on South Pearl St., served as the backdrop for the Center for Law and Justice to launch a petition drive.
The Center is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to empanel a commission to examine the impact of mass incarceration, and what can be done to help ex-convicts transition back into the community.
"There are so many different ways the system harms individuals who have been convicted of a crime," the Center’s executive director, Alice Green, told NewsChannel 13.
Many young people – especially minorities – serve time in state prison for non-violent drug offenses then struggle to find housing and work when they are released, Green said.
"Nelson Mandela taught us to forgive, and to reach out and bring people into the community, to unite people," Green said.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison in South Africa.