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Tottenham school children remember an icon

GREATNESS: Olivier Tambo and Nelson Mandela

OLIVIER TAMBO left South Africa in 1960 and lived in exile in Haringey, north London for 30 years. Throughout this time, he mobilised opposition to apartheid across the world and, along with Nelson Mandela, could claim to be the co-founder of modern South Africa.

This year marks the centenary of his birth and a few weeks ago, Park View School in West Green Road - in partnership with Action for Southern Africa and the Anti-Apartheid Movement Archive - launched a competition to ‘build a memorial to Oliver Tambo’.

They asked students from Haringey schools to submit whatever memorials they thought appropriate – whether that be poems, paintings, short films, a bust or a biography.

“We were overwhelmed by the amount of entries,” said Daniel Lyndon, lead practitioner in Humanities at Park View. “At the school we set this as Year 7 homework so they’ve had six weeks to do the project and in total nine schools in Haringey have submitted entries.

"It was important to raise awareness about the work of Oliver Tambo, he’s not as well-known as he should be, so this was a good opportunity to celebrate his contribution in fighting for equality and freedom.”

At a special event at the school last week, the many diverse memorials were displayed with a ‘top table’ featuring the winning entries for the different age groups. A host of dignitaries were present - including ex government minister and well-known anti-apartheid activist, Peter Hain, and Tottenham MP David Lammy - and students performed music and drama pieces before the prize-giving.

“The students have shown fantastic talent and their commitment in researching Oliver Tambo – who they knew nothing about – and delivering what’s on display today is inspirational,” said Peter Hain.

“They have captured perfectly the values of social justice, equality and democracy and human rights that he fought so hard for. It is a real privilege to be here and witness such participation and engagement.”

One of the winning entries was a poem called 30 Years by Precious, aged 17 from Tottenham, who goes to Greig City Academy in Haringey.

“I didn’t know anything about Oliver Tambo before this competition but I found researching him and his life really interesting,” she said. “I took two days over this poem and was shocked to win because there was so many talented entries out there.”

“I made a wire sculpture of his head,” said another award-winner, Stanley, aged 12, a pupil at Park View. “He was an amazing man who sacrificed so much and did his bit to change the world for other people who are suffering.”

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