Nelson Mandela touched the lives of New Orleanians


Posted on December 5, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 11:40 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The world is grieving over the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela. 

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was 95 years old. It's not often you get to meet a head of state, let alone a freedom fighter.

Two New Orleanians shared their story with Eyewitness News of meeting Mandela.

"To have an amazing smile and forgiveness for all of us. It was a moment I will cherish for the rest of the my life," said Chef Dominique Macquet.

Inside the kitchen of Dominique's on Magazine, Chef Dominique Macquet was busy prepping for a busy Thursday night at his Uptown restaurant. He'd just heard the news of Nelson Mandela's passing.

"That is a meal I wish I could cook it again for him because he is such an amazing person," Macquet said, remembering the day back in 1989 when Mandela was released from prison.

Macquet was asked to prepare a meal not knowing who'd be sitting at the table. On the menu: a shrimp louie dish finished with a wild berry dessert.

"I only found out when the food went to the table, which was an unbelievable moment in my career to see a man who was put in jail for 27 years for a belief that was correct," said Chef Macquet.

Before becoming South Africa's first black president, Mandela spent 27 years behind bars. He was imprisoned for leading an anti-apartheid revolution against what was then South Africa's white-led government.

Mandela ultimately became known throughout the world as a freedom fighter and international hero.

New Orleans musician Damon Batiste also got a chance to meet Mandela face-to-face.

"I've been there 75 times. I met Mandela on my first visit back in 1995. Just been able to help me and millions of people around the world because he's inspired me," said Batiste.

Now that the Nobel Peace Prize winner who represented the struggle against racial oppression has passed, those who've met Mandela hope his legacy lives on.

"Many people from around the world need to take a lesson from this man's spirit, life and integrity," said Batiste.