This Saturday saw a ‘Walk of Respect’ for Nelson Mandela from the Mandela Gardens in the centre of Leeds to the Mandela Community Centre in Chapeltown organised as part of a weekend of events commemorating the Mandela’s life by the Celebration of Mandela Community Committee and the Leeds West Indian Centre Charitable Trust.
Ben Mayor, Leeds Socialist Party
The march assembled from 2:00pm and was introduced with a few short speeches and singing from members of the march. Shortly afterwards the march began, led by Sikh drummers, proudly giving rhythm and momentum to the march which began as it meant to go on, lively and energetic. As we passed through the city centre on our way to the Mandela Community Centre organisers handed out leaflets of the programme for the weekend and the presence of the march was greeted with smiles, waves and applause.
As we left the city centre and began to march on the main road queuing motorists beeped their horns in solidarity to the lively march, which was in turn greeted with cheers and the sound of horns by marchers.
Socialist Party members had a presence on the march, engaging in discussion with those on the march, highlighting the importance to carry on the struggle in South Africa and the important developments of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) Signifying once again the coming to the stage of the class struggle in South Africa since the brutal Marikana Massacre (http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15167/05-09-2012/south-africa-marikana-massacre-ignites-a-political-volcano ).
When the March reached the Mandela Community centre the drummers were joined by bongo players who were waiting as young people approached the windows of the community centre, dancing along to the music. Before the march moved into the community centre for food and drink one of the organisers invited people to share a few words with the crowd, people responded, referring to the fighting spirit of Mandela and that we should not let that die out, and to continue the struggle. A Socialist Party member followed, complimenting the other speakers, referring to the fact that an economic and a class apartheid still exists today in South Africa and that the fight is intensifying once again. Moving on to comment on the economic apartheid which exists right here in the UK, with £750bn in the corporations bank accounts not being invested and M.P’s awarding themselves an 11% pay rise on top of their already inflated salaries and expenses. This was well received by the present crowd.
This march and the events afterwards in the community centre showed the true potential power of working people, people of all backgrounds, races, religions, coming together in solidarity to remember the contributions of a universally recognised fighter. It was telling however, that amongst the marchers there were people who felt that the fight was not over, and this should not simply be a ‘memorial’ service. Those that recognised that our fight is here and now, against this brutal coalition and the austerity it is forcing on ordinary people for a crisis that we did not cause, Socialist Party members received a good response and were approached by people wanting and willing to get involved in the fight back.
See also – Socialist Party obituary for Mandela (http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/17860/06-12-2013/after-nelson-mandela-continue-the-struggle-for-freedom-and-equality)