BY BEN HENDERSON
An exhibition next year will celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela.
The former South African president has a strong connection with the area – and its people felt intimately connected to him.
In 1993 he played a key role in pursuing justice over the killing of Eltham teenager, Steven Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack.
Mandela’s public support for Steven’s parents in the hunt for the killers brought the case to national attention, forcing the police to act.
Mandela, whose clan name in South Africa was Mabida, also visited South London on a state visit in 1996 to huge fanfare and he met Steven’s parents again in 1998.
Mandela’s grandson, Nkosi Zelivelile, said: “Madiba’s visit to Brixton, South London on July 12, 1996, a week before his 78th birthday, was quintessentially a demonstration of the man.
It was on his request that the visit took place to thank the people of London for their support and being ‘the heartland of the anti-apartheid movement’.
“It must have resonated with him in the darkest days of his incarceration and undoubtedly as a free man he appreciated the immense gesture of support.
No small wonder that Nelson Mandela loved Brixton and Brixton loved him.
Someone called it a ‘match made in heaven’, I tend to agree.
It was no surprise Madiba chose London as one of the first cities outside Africa to visit as a free man after his 27-year incarceration.
“I can say without the slightest doubt that Madiba would have given his stamp of approval to staging this exhibition in London.”
The exhibition will outline Mandela’s life journey through personal belongings of his, never previously seen outside of South Africa.
These items include the suit worn for the opening of the South African parliament in 1996, a traditional headdress gifted to him by a local South African chief, his presidential desk and chair and his iconic beige trench coat.
Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition is in celebration of the 100th year of his birth and to mark five years since his death.
It is to be mounted in collaboration with the Royal House of Mandela and the Mvezo Development Trust.
Producer Steven Swaby said: “This unique exhibition goes beyond the well-known ‘Mandela Myth’ and reveals the inner stories of a remarkable life lived with remarkable courage, conviction and compassion.
“It asks us to consider the meaning of Mandela in the here and now, and explores the complexities of his legacy in a world where inequality and injustice are still a daily fact of life.”
The exhibition, which will run from February 8 until June 2, 2019, will take place at 26 Leake Street, Lambeth (nearest tube Waterloo).
Tickets can be bought at www.ticketmaster.co.uk.