Free Mandela

mda07. Concert for Mandela

This concert, held in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank, was one of many events held to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 65th birthday on 18 July 1983. It raised funds for the 1983 Free Nelson Mandela Campaign, which brought together trade unions, the Church of England’s Board of Social Responsibility, and black and ethnic minority organisations.

mda08. Mandela 65th birthday meeting

Nelson Mandela’s 65th birthday was celebrated at a meeting in London attended by his daughter Zenani. Among the speakers were Mary Benson and AAM President Trevor Huddleston, who had both known Mandela before he went to prison. Hugh Masekela and the ANC choir performed at the celebration. Mandela’s birthday was marked by events all over Britain. The London Borough of Greenwich awarded him the freedom of the borough and public gardens were named after him in Leeds and Hull.

pic8304. Nelson Mandela Building, Sheffield

ANC representative Ruth Mompati spoke at the renaming of Sheffield Polytechnic Student Union building as the Nelson Mandela Building. Sheffield Polytechnic was one of many student unions to rename buildings after Nelson Mandela in the 1980s.

las06. Freedom of Aberdeen for Mandela

Nelson and Winnie Mandela were awarded the Freedom of the City of Aberdeen in 1984, with the support of Labour and Liberal members of the city council. This press release tells how Aberdeen AA Group won support for the award from local residents in the face of opposition from Conservative councillors and the Aberdeen Evening Express.

mda37. Mandela House, Hackney

Hackney Council press release announcing the renaming of an east London housing block as Mandela House in 1984. Many British local authorities named roads, public gardens and housing estates in honour of Nelson Mandela in the 1980s as part of the campaign for his release.

pic8429. ‘Release Nelson Mandela’ petition

An international petition calling for the release of Nelson Mandela was launched by the AAM in October 1982. Signatures for the petition were collected in countries throughout the world. Over half a million people signed and other organisations launched their own petitions. The AAM’s President Trevor Huddleston flew to New York to present the petition to UN Secretary General on 11 October 1984, International Day of Solidarity with South African Political Prisoners.

bdg07. ‘Mandela’

Wooden badge calling for the release of Nelson Mandela.

mda10. ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ 24-hour picket

City of London Anti-Apartheid Group was formed in 1982. Its first activity was a non-stop 24-hour picket to demand the transfer of political prisoner David Kitson from Pretoria Central Prison. This 24-hour vigil to demand the release of Nelson Mandela held in June 1985 was a precursor of the four-year non-stop picket of the South African Embassy organised by the group from 1986 to 1990. The picket attracted hundreds of enthusiastic young activists.