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Nelson Mandela: Brixton will never forget

CLOSE TIES: Mandela with a schoolgirl from Brixton's Corpus Christi School

BRIXTON RESIDENTS were given the chance to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela in their own words by signing a book of condolences at Lambeth Town Hall.

The former South African President visited the area in 1996, which is home to a large black population.

Streatham MP Chukka Umunna, was one of many to leave a message. He wrote: "One of my constituents said, 'people like Mandela never die'. Madiba, you are an inspiration, a model, an example, we will miss you greatly, we will never forget."

Yvonne, 79, from Cape Town, said: “At least Mandela is out of his misery, but I was shocked by the response from people around the world."

She reflected on her experiences of living in South Africa during the apartheid era as a 'mixed race' woman - her father originated from Mauritius and her mother from Indonesia.

"I was very young just started out in my teaching career… unfortunately, my battle was with the Catholic Church as I taught at the school there. They were utterly racist and nasty and tried to kick me out.

"After the 1960s, it got more and more political, I fell out with the head nun as she wanted us to learn the Afrikaans national anthem. I defied her and walked out of the school.

"I decided to fight, because I was inspired by Mandela and was not going to put up with all this nonsense."

Yvonne said the racism was so bad that in 1968, she left South Africa and boarded a boat to Britain - the same year Mandela was sent to jail.

"I was in such a state and knew I would either end up in the mad house or six feet under."

Having been a big supporter of the political party the African National Congress (ANC), which Mandela was part of, Yvonne said: "We couldn’t join them officially as that would have caused more problems, but we were all still behind it."

It has been eight years since Yvonne has been back to her home country.

“It will take a little while for things to get better in South Africa, probably two or three generations. When Mandela was freed in 1990, they let us vote four years later. I voted here in the UK for the first time and it felt absolutely amazing.”

She added: “Mandela’s legacy will be the fact that he brought us all together as I never thought it would happen, I never thought apartheid would break and happen in my lifetime."

Read what other people in Brixton had to say:

Kevin Barclay, 31
Mandela was a freedom fighter who survived 27 years in prison. To hear of him passing, was still shocking. To me he is like a Bob Marley, his legacy will definitely live on.

Tim Daket, 47
He symbolised unity and forgiveness and something good for the black people because he sacrificed his life, comfort and everything just to make sure everyone was OK. That is his legacy; the fact he never wore any bitterness despite all the injustice done against him, which is why it’s a shame to see young people in London killing each other over the slightest thing. We are not learning from it... and we should look at ourselves again and reflect on what’s really important and stop wasting our time over silly things.


I have lived in Lambeth for 50 to 60 years and was here when Mandela came in 1996. He is the man I look up to as he fought for equality and freedom. I have a lot of respect for him and he won’t be forgotten. The sun will never go down on him, he will be shining forever.

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