It’s Mandela Interchange ... for a start

 Urging citizens to vote in the 1986 elections, NAR supporter Gerry Hadeed produced a Nelson Mandela colour poster reading “For the right to vote—this man is in prison for almost 25 years”. After Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, I made several calls for Trinidad and Tobago to honour the life of the man and the memory of his struggle; sadly they all fell on deaf ears. 

Toronto renamed its oldest and historic school on Shuter Street after him; Jamaica has a Nelson Mandela highway; and hundreds of cities, boroughs and villages spread over Britain paid tribute to Mandela’s struggle by giving the Mandela name to streets, theatres, city halls, stadia, parks, gardens and other places. 

And in countries as scattered as Australia, India, Venezuela, Brazil and Zimbabwe—public tribute was paid to Mandela for his fight against apartheid, and for human dignity, with no greater recognition  than his bronze statue in Parliament Square, standing tall with other greats—Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Disraeli.  But Trinidad and Tobago is nowhere to be counted!

When Britain under Margaret Thatcher adopted a “hands off” policy towards the imprisoned Mandela, the Glasgow City Council in 1981 chose to give the freedom of their city to Mandela—a prisoner 6,000 miles away.  Following the people of Glasgow in support of Mandela’s fight for the human dignity and the freedom of millions of black South Africans, the mayors of 2,500 municipalities in 56 countries worldwide gave Nelson Mandela the freedom of their cities.  The world beyond South Africa was standing solidly with  Mandela in his fight against apartheid. 

When Mandela visited Trinidad in April 2004, and was greeted by then prime minister Patrick Manning and Jack Warner at Piarco—a golden opportunity was lost. Mr Manning, no stranger to symbolism, was pre-occupied with the silver coat of arms to replace his official PM1 licence plate. 

For a start— “The Nelson Mandela Interchange” now under construction, should replace the current  “Nestle Corner” or “Grand Bazaar Corner”. But that’s only a start. 

Michael J Williams

via e-mail

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