10 May 2018

Islington anti-apartheid exhibition celebrates 100 years since Nelson Mandela's birth

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A free new exhibition tells the story of Islington’s anti-apartheid movement with rare original items, photos, posters and interviews.

Fighting Apartheid in Islington is at Islington Museum, 245 St John Street, until 19 June, and marks 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela.

Islington was at the heart of the British movement to fight South Africa’s apartheid government, which ruled from 1948 to 1994 with a system based on racism and segregation. Local campaigners raised money to fight apartheid, took part in the global boycott movement and joined the non-stop picket in Trafalgar Square to register their protest.

The African National Congress (ANC), which fought apartheid and was exiled by the South African government, had its London base in Penton Street from 1978 to 1984. Four young Islington residents were ‘London Recruits’, part of the secret movement to support the ANC in South Africa when its leaders were imprisoned or in exile. The ANC offices were bombed by South African government agents in 1982.

The exhibition, which is in partnership with the Marx Memorial Library and the Anti-Apartheid Movement Archive, includes:

• A suitcase with a false bottom used to smuggle ANC leaflets into South Africa
• Original leaflets, posters and banners from the campaign in Islington
• A film about London Recruits (a taster film for a full-length feature film coming out later this year)
• Photos of the ANC office in the aftermath of the 1982 bombing
• Interviews with local people from Islington who joined the struggle against apartheid
• Photos of the local campaign and campaigners, including mayor Bob Crossman at the Non-Stop Picket Against Apartheid outside the South African Embassy in 1986 in his mayoral regalia

Apartheid ended in 1994, and Nelson Mandela was president from 1994-99. He died in 2013.

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council’s executive member for economic development, said: “Many people from Islington joined the global campaign to end South Africa’s racist apartheid regime.

“At a time when the struggle against racism continues, we’re proud of the part our borough played in the fight against apartheid and we invite everyone to come to our free exhibition, which marks the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.”

For more information about the exhibition see www.islington.gov.uk/museum

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