Mandela Day: South African anti-apartheid activist statue unveiled in Liverpool

  • Video report by Granada Reports correspondent Anna Youssef.

A memorial has been unveiled in park to commemorate anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.

The monument, in Princes Park in Toxteth, Liverpool, has 32 stone pedestals inscribed with quotes from the former South African premier which aims to replicate an outdoor classroom and signify the anti-apartheid movement and connection to Liverpool.

The memorial consists of 32 stonework pedestals, inscribed with Mandela quotes

Sonia Bassey, chairman of Mandela8 charity, said: "The memorial is an outdoor classroom to educate people to love each other, not hate each other so we can learn more about our differences and that's so important in society today.

"The inspiration behind the memorial was Nelson Mandela's connection to Liverpool, Liverpool was an avid support of anti-apartheid and were heavily involved in the free Nelson Mandela campaign."

Nelson Mandela was given the freedom of the city in 1994, and many of Liverpool's workers and people across the city played a role in fighting apartheid in South Africa, including taking information in and out of the country.

The memorial will act as an educational space for children in the community

"There's so many connections between Liverpool and South Africa," she added. "We couldn't think of a more fitting way to celebrate this man and his legacy."

As well as the pedestals, the memorial also includes a bridge representing community links.

"Mandela was incarcerated on an island for 18 years of his 17 years in prison, and so the island represents that space of incarceration, the bridge connects people back to communities and people can come and go freely... the stones are made of limestone and it was the stone Nelson Mandela quarried in prison, the island is in the park and Nelson Mandela loves a garden," continued Ms Bassey.

Mandela's daughter Dr. Makaziwe Mandela and granddaughter Tukwini Mandela were at the unveiling of the monument

The ceremony was attended by Nelson Mandela's Dr Makaziwe Mandela, and granddaughter Tukwini Mandela.

Tukwini said: "We always underestimate the influence that my grandfather had all over the world, if you see here, this is people from all walks of life, this is what my grandfather would have loved and would have fought for.

"It's for equality for all races. It's nice to see his legacy is still being cared for and that you know children as young as schoolchildren are learning about him and his values.

"For us it's heartwarming to see, and it means that everything he fought for was not in vain."

However, the memorial was also met by protestors concerned about the wildlife.

Campaigners launched a petition to have the statue relocated which has so far gained 1,850 signatures.

The memorial was also met by protestors concerned about the wildlife

The petition says: “It seems clear from his environmental activism and his own words, that Nelson Mandela would not want something constructed in his name that would knowingly harm wildlife, especially when it can just be built elsewhere. 

“There are plenty of open spaces within Prince's Park for the artwork to go which are also more visible to the public allowing more people to appreciate it.

“For the benefit of the wildlife on the island at Prince's Park, and to the detriment of no people at all, to those managing this project please don't build the bridge and put the artwork elsewhere, thank you.”

Ash Faulkner, a wildlife campaigner, said: "My concern is that the wildlife is going to be disturbed, disrupted and killed unfortunately.

"As somebody who works in wildlife and volunteers at wildlife rescues, I'm at this park very frequently, rescuing, rehabilitating animals and unfortunately having really difficult conversations with youths about harming the animals, it has led to them killing the animals.

"By having a permanent access bridge there, it's basically a green light for that to continue until there's no wildlife yet."

The campaigners are calling for the memorial to be moved away from the area it's been placed in.

"Nobody's against the memorial at all, everybody wants it and wants it in this park, it's a beautiful symbol of Nelson Mandela and the work and contribution he gave to society and how it's improved how we live collectively so much better, but everybody has asked to just move it to within this parka bout 100 m to an open unused green space, where its accessible to all without detriment to the wildlife," Ms Faulkner continued.

The memorial been been commissioned by the Mandela8 organisation and is to be situated on a man made island in the grade II listed green space.