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South Wales East AM Lindsay Whittle’s blog: December 11

Published in Comment, News at 13:33, Wednesday December 11th, 2013. Last updated at 15:48, Wednesday December 11th, 2013

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Nelson Mandela
This week the world is paying tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela whose contribution cannot be over-estimated.

Without Mr Mandela’s influence and belief in reconciliation, I hate to think what would have happened in South Africa after apartheid ended. There could so easily have been a bloodbath.

He was a colossus and, undoubtedly, one of the most significant figures of the 20th Century. Many involved in conflicts across the globe could learn from his inspiring leadership and his ability to work with former oppressors to change the country peacefully.

Nelson Mandela’s passing had me recalling the time when as a 16-year-old pupil at Caerphilly Grammar School, I went to Rodney Parade when Newport hosted South Africa in 1969. It was not to attend the game – although I love rugby – but to join hundreds of people protesting about apartheid.

I also went to an anti-apartheid demonstration in Cardiff when Wales was playing South Africa. The South African team got a rough reception when they came out on the balcony of The Angel Hotel. I also recall comedian Spike Milligan was roundly booed after holding up a ticket for the match.

It was later when I attended an anti-apartheid meeting at the old Cory Hall in Cardiff that I learnt about Nelson Mandela.

Events
At this time of the year Assembly Members and, indeed, councillors are invited to many events.

I attended the St David’s Hospice Light Up A Light service at St Martin’s Church in Caerphilly last week. There I read poems by the Idris Davies, the People’s Poet from the Rhymney Valley. The hospice does some superb work.

I also attended a Christmas concert at Penyrheol Community Centre with the Aber Valley Male Voice Choir and the annual general meeting of The Senghenydd Youth Drop In Centre (SYDIC), where it was a privilege to be asked to speak.

It was also great to host the Rotary Club’s Youth Speaks Competition Wales Final in the Senedd which was a high quality debate among schools from across our nation.

Lindsay Whittle
Plaid Cymru South Wales East AM

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