Tonight there is a ‘Free’ World Party that is taking place at Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt. The Crypt was the venue where many Teesside Anti-Apartheid events took place in the 80s and 90s. The support we received from Middlesbrough Council was fantastic – despite many people and organisations still claiming that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist.
One of my proudest moments was in 1988 when Middlesbrough Council flew the African National Congress flag above the town Hall to mark Mandela’s 70th birthday, when he was still in prison. The Evening Gazette was interviewing people outside the Town Hall asking them what they thought of the council flying a terrorist flag – how things have changed! Not least because of the incredible generosity, forgiveness and love for human kind that Nelson Mandela has taught us, but also how we have all played a part in challenging racism: both state and personal racism and intolerance.
The organizers of tonight’s World Party have decided to dedicate the evening to Mandela and the South African peoples heroic struggle to defeat apartheid, and I would love to see all my colleagues and friends – new and old – in the Crypt tonight to pay tribute to Mandela and everything he stood for.
Pete Widlinki (Middlesbrough, UK.)