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Calls to rename new Birmingham library after Mandela


A GROUNDSWELL of public opinion is growing to rename the new Library of Birmingham after Nelson Mandela.

It follows a local radio phone-in by Desmond Jaddoo on his weekly Connecting Communities Political Hour on Newstyle Radio when listeners were asked for their views on renaming the library after the former South African president.

“The phone lines lit up straightaway and there was a resounding ‘yes’ from so many people,” said Jaddoo, a community activist who runs Birmingham Empowerment Forum.

“Everyone felt that this would be a fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela. The library undoubtedly represents his values of equality, access for all, education, cohesion and the next generation, culture and the building of a continual legacy.”

It follows the announcement several days ago that Handsworth Leisure Centre, which Mandela visited when he came to Birmingham in 1993, is to be renamed The Nelson Mandela Health and Wellbeing Centre.

NAME CHANGE CALL: The Library of Birmingham

Jaddoo added: “This was good news, but people feel that the new library would be more of an iconic building to honour Mandela. Also, people in the Handsworth area have not forgotten how another community centre was named after Muhammad Ali when he opened it himself during a visit to Birmingham in 1983.

“That building is now a burned-out wreck, which has been boarded up for well over a decade. Like Ali, Mandela deserves better than that.

“We have written a letter to Councillor Ian Ward, the Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council regarding this.”

The £189m Library of Birmingham was opened in September by Taliban shooting victim Malala Yousafzai, while veteran US civil rights champion Jesse Jackson also attended.

Brian Gambles, director of the new library, told The Voice: “We are full of admiration for Nelson Mandela and all the values he stood for. We were delighted to welcome Malala Yousafzai to open the library.

“Any move to change the name of the library would have to be part of a wider political discussion.”

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