Attending the statue unveiling on O.T. Tambo Recreation Ground back in 2019
Attending the statue unveiling on O.T. Tambo Recreation Ground back in 2019

Mr Mayor, Her Excellency, Lord Hain, Cllr Ejiofor and friends

I would like to congratulate Haringey Council for listening to the voices of local people, young and old and all those dedicated to racial equality as expressed in the Black Lives Matter marches and the events and vigils we held in Hornsey and Wood Green last summer.

I am so pleased to be able to join you today, for the renaming of this Park and to remember Oliver Tambo, who went into exile to support the dream of a democratic South Africa.

It is particularly apt to give his name to this park. He and his family lived around the corner and their home was a centre for the community in exile. Cllr Eldridge Culverwell talks about the times that he and his father, who lived just off Colney Hatch Lane, would walk over to visit, to spend time and to meet up with friends and comrades.

My daughter, who, last summer, finished A Levels at Alexandra Park School next door tells me at lunchtime the children say ‘see you at Tambo’ and after school and even on Saturday evenings, when young people gather in the western end of the park, one of the remaining spaces, where they still can. The year of the pandemic has shown us the importance of the everyday, the open air, the green of the parks.

The renaming of this park is a reminder of the terrible nature of the Apartheid regime and the heroes who fought for liberation.

For the end of Apartheid did not just effect those living in South Africa, it was and continues to be a source of hope for oppressed peoples across the world. To remember that struggle can lead to democratic change and freedom.

As we watch the rise of oppressive regimes, this dream of a democratic transition of power is more important than ever.

Haringey’s motto is Progress with Humanity and in our schools we emphasis collective endeavour.  As Steve Biko said:

‘all our action is usually joint community oriented action rather than the individualism’

At one Black Lives Matter vigil last summer, we read the names of many who have died in police custody and in our mental health system, a legacy of discrimination.  The cry of ‘freedom’ is heard today with the challenges which remain for too many in our Haringey community. We have our beacons OR Tambo, Steve Biko, Madiba, joining forces we can attest to our common humanity. Like the young people, committed to an equal society, they say ‘See you at Tambo’.


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