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SUBMITTED PHOTO South African leader Nelson Mandela also visited Canada in 1998. On Oct. 5 that year, he was photographed wearing a custom ceremonial garment, one of two created by the Bemidji Woolen Mills for Mandela and his wife Graca Machel. Mandela is reported to have liked the robe so well he wore it the rest of the day.

An 'awesome' experience seeing Mandela: Local educator remembers Harvard speech

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BEMIDJI — As South African leader Nelson Mandela laid in a hospital this past summer, local resident Lara Gerhardson reflected on the time she heard him speak in person.

"It was pretty awesome," said Gerhardson, now the coordinator of the Students First program in Bemidji schools.

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