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Chapeltown, Leeds, UK, pays tribute to Nelson Mandela

Kadesh Anderson | 12/19/2013, 10:30 a.m.

After the riots in the 1980s, Witter said that the government bodies and local authorities began to make an effort with youth clubs across Britain. “Resources were made available and a well-established youth center was being recognized. We set up huge amounts of organizations and groups within the center, like sports teams as well as art and theater productions. National youth exchanges were even set up where we would go to places like Bristol or Nottingham and offer our services as youth workers.”

In great respect of the hard life of Mandela, the community of Chapeltown, came together to celebrate the life of the legend by forming a tribute, which was planned in less than a week from his passing. On Dec. 14, there was a “Walk of Respect” to honor Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom.” The walk took place starting at the Mandela Garden, located at the Millennium Square in the Leeds Town Centre, and ended at the Mandela Centre. During the course of the event, the Amsterdam News was able to speak to some of the many organizers of the two-day tribute to get an insight into the community’s thoughts of the man himself.

Marvina Babs-Apata from the Angels of Youth, which is a community youth group program, expressed her views on Mandela, saying “Black history is Mandela; Black history is everybody’s history. That is why I wanted it to be as cool and diverse as it could be, and that is why there are different people here.” Babs-Apata described the “Walk of Respect” to be very successful and very well supported, as over 100 people joined the walk.

“The police came and supported us, we had the council support us and [made] sure that we walked safely.”

The community gathered in unity as performances from African dance groups came to contribute to the event. People also read their own personal poetry as well as poetry expressing their views on Mandela. People of the community gave speeches in remembrance of Mandela and what he meant to society. Chairperson of the Leeds West Indian Centre and co-founder Arthur Frances signified his views on Mandela and his impact of the community since his death.

“What happened at the Mandela Centre was an occasion where we had to celebrate the life of one of the greatest men that ever lived. You need something that will trigger a point to bring us together. I’m always determined to look how we can bridge the gap between African and Caribbean.”

On Dec. 15, the community gathered at the Leeds West Indian Centre to view the funeral service of Mandela. The “Long Walk to Freedom” ended physically for Madiba in his home village of Qunu, South Africa. As Frances said, “We are not responsible for the past, but we are responsible for the future.”