Nelson Mandela death: Hundreds throughout South West London sign books of condolence


Mourners also gathered outside the South African Embassy in London to pay their respects.


By Rachel Hur

Mourners gathered outside the South African Embassy in London this weekend following the news that Nelson Mandela passed away at his Johannesburg home on Thursday night.

PM David Cameron made his way to South Africa House on Friday morning to sign the condolence book as people paid tribute with songs, flowers and messages.

Mel Shiham, 31, of Brixton, said the African community was shocked and sad at the news of the death of their icon.

“He was not only an icon to South Africans but worldwide. He was truly a magnificent man and will always be in our hearts,” she said.

“God Bless Madiba.”

Ed Morgan, a reporter for South African radio Afreeca, said mourners had been gathering outside the commission since the news broke.

He said: “There are people crying, singing his name, on their knees finding it difficult to take in the news.

“That is how much he meant to people.”

A vigil was held in remembrance outside South Africa House in Trafalgar Square on Friday night at 6pm.

Action for Southern Africa group, formerly known as the Anti-Apartheid Movement, were present to celebrate the life of South Africa’s first black President.

A spokesman for Unison, the UK’s leading public service union, said they were proud to have stood by the great man.

Mourners wishing to leave flowers or messages are asked to bring them to the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square.

South West London councils have also been paying their respects.

A book of condolence, which has been left outside Morden Library, has been signed by the Mayor of Merton Councillor Krystal Miller.

“Nelson Mandela was an inspirational world leader who stood for democracy and freedom. His lifelong fight against racial oppression and for peace and unity are a great example to us all,” said Cllr Miller.

A book of condolence was also opened by Lambeth’s mayor Cllr Mark Bennett at Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton for those who wish to express their sympathies to Mr Mandela’s family and country.

Cllr Mark Bennett, Mayor of Lambeth, said he was proud that Mandela visited Brixton in 1996.

“The death of Nelson Mandela is a moment of great sadness for all who value freedom and equality in the world. The remarkable achievements of his life, almost a third of which was spent in incarceration at the hands of the Apartheid regime, will be long remembered.

“After his release from jail, he set about an extraordinary reshaping of attitudes, not only in South Africa but across the world. Extraordinary because, for a man who could have been driven by vengeance, his driving principle was forgiveness.

It was a cathartic moment for many who had campaigned against Apartheid, or stood against inequality in all its forms here in the UK, to get a glimpse of a living, breathing, smiling icon of their beliefs.”

Paul Reid was among the crowds to greet Mr Mandela in 1996 and is now is director of the Black Cultural Archives Centre, which celebrated work beginning on its new home in Brixton’s Windrush Square on Saturday June 8.

He said: “The importance of black culture in Lambeth cannot be overstated and Nelson Mandela’s visit here in 1996 and the celebration it caused among locals young and old inspires us to this day.”

Photo courtesy of Debris2008, with thanks.

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