Young people welcome South African dignitaries to celebration of Nelson Mandela

Caption: Nelson Mandela pictured at the opening of Millennium Square in Leeds in 2001.

Local primary school pupils will join dignitaries from Leeds and South Africa for a vibrant celebration of the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Tomorrow’s (Wednesday, June 4) special event will see young people welcome three representatives of the South African High Commission to Leeds Civic Hall as the city marks 20 years since the end of apartheid.

Minister Counsellor Dumisani Ntuli, Counsellor Bilateral Allan Wright and First Secretary Carol Mabuza will travel to Leeds for the event, where they will be entertained by readings and performances by local youngsters and community groups.

The colourful celebration is aimed at ensuring young people have the chance to learn about Mandela’s visit to Leeds, which saw him receive the Freedom of the City in 2001.

Pupils from Bramley Primary school will perform their special Mandela song and poets from the Hamara Centre will give a reading.

The celebration, which begins at 4.30pm, will also include the screening of a film about the impact Mandela had on Leeds, a reading from children from Wykebeck Primary School and a performance by Leeds Southern African Residents’ Association’s United Harmonies choir.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mandela, who officially opened Millennium Square when he visited Leeds, died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg on December 5 at the age of 95.

His death provoked a city-wide outpouring of grief, and a commemorative service was held at Leeds Minster.

Following the service, it was it was agreed that a wider community celebration of his life should take place this spring to coincide with 20 years of freedom.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“This week’s celebration will be a poignant opportunity for the city to recognise the immense contribution Nelson Mandela made over the years to democracy, justice and freedom.

“And by involving so many of our talented young people and giving them a chance to perform and express themselves, it will also ensure the impact this remarkable man made is remembered by future generations.

“Leeds people continue to hold Mandela in their hearts and the city has a special connection with him.

"Many people still have fond memories of the day thousands gathered for the official opening of Millennium Square on what was a momentous day and it is important that young people are given the chance to carry on that legacy.

Current South African High Commisioner Obed Mlaba was the Mayor of Durban in 1998 and signed the memorandum of understanding that made Leeds and Durban partner cities.

Cllr Wakefield added: “We are honoured to welcome three representatives of His Excellency Obed Mlaba.

“Their presence will give the people of Leeds an opportunity to reflect upon the truly remarkable transformation of South African society since 1994 and will also reaffirm the bonds our city has forged with the people of Durban.”

Leeds City Council and the South African High Commission have already held a series of celebrations, including a week long Celebrate Mandela festival which featured events and stories by community groups and organisations.

The South African High Commission will also be holding its own freedom celebration at South Africa House on June 11, which will ask Leeds anti-apartheid activists and schools to join.


For more details, please contact:

Stuart Robinson

Communications Officer

Leeds City Council

Tel: 0113 224 3937

Email: stuart.robinson@leeds.gov.uk